Experts Say Young Children May Be More Likely to Transmit COVID-19

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As more and more children go back to school, questions about the spread of the virus and the difference between cold and COVID-19 symptoms are mounting.

Is the delta variant more dangerous for kids? How easily does the virus move between kids and adults?

NBC Bay Area talked to experts that can answer some of these questions.

Dr. Vincent Tamariz is a pediatric emergency room doctor at Sutter California Pacific Medical Center. He said he has recently seen more children in his emergency room infected with COVID-19.

However, the symptoms aren't exactly the same as adults. More specifically, kids tend to show more stomach issues.

"The gastrointestinal symptoms of coronavirus are different in children than they are in adults because children will have more of a gastrointestinal complaint than adults, and we’re seeing that more with the delta variant," Dr. Tamariz explained.

He also said its impossible to know right away if its COVID-19 or not.

Symptoms in children can range from stomach issues to the more familiar coronavirus signs like upper respiratory symptoms such as a dry cough, runny nose and sometimes fever.

The best thing to do as soon as a child is showing any of these symptoms, is to get them checked out.

"If your child is having symptoms of cough, cold, vomiting, stomach issues we want to see them because we want to make sure that they’re not a potential spread in the family," Dr. Tamariz said.

Dr. Tracy McMahon has also seen a record number of visits to their clinic.

"We are seeing many many many kids come into the office who are sick," she said. "The majority are upper respiratory symptoms, coughs, runny noses, sometimes fevers."

Another growing concern comes from a recent study from Ontario that examined over 6,000 households and found younger children may be more likely to transmit COVID-19 than other children.

The highest transmission was in the youngest children up to age 3.

"We’re characterizing exactly the rates and we don't have those exact numbers, but children can transmit it to adults especially infants and young children who have very close contact with," Dr. Tamariz explained.

Children do serve as a potential reservoir and infection source for families, which is crucial for unvaccinated families.

Experts say the best way to protect kids who can't get vaccinated is to wear a face covering.

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