A Riverside County mother is warning others after her 8-year-old son was severely sickened by COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized for nearly a week.
"It has the strangest effects on any age, at any time," said Teresa Carriera, who got COVID-19--along with her husband Javier in mid-February.
In addition to Teresa and Javier, the couple's 8-year-old son Christian also caught the illness.
"My son kept saying he was fine, and yet I could see his breathing was difficult and rapid," Teresa said.
Christian has a mild form of autism, and Teresa says sometimes it is difficult for the 8-year-old to verbalize how he is feeling. But when his high fever wouldn't let up, Teresa says her motherly instincts kicked in and she took him to Loma Linda University Medical Center in Murrieta.
Christian was then transported by ambulance to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego for specialized care, where Teresa was isolated in a room with him for five days while he was given medications for his severe illness.
"So, between the remdesivir, steroids, blood thinners and the oxygen, my son got well," the relieved mother said.
Riverside County Public Health Officer Cameron Kaiser says it is somewhat rare for children to get severely ill from COVID-19 because, for some reason, their immune systems can weather the virus better than adults.
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"It's hard to really say what puts kids at risk for severe COVID-19 or why most do ok, but a few will go bad really fast," Kaiser said. "But for parents, if you feel like you need your kid to be evaluated quicker than later, you are probably right."
Christian has epilepsy and Teresa believes that may be one reason why his symptoms were so bad. She’s hoping her story will help other parents, especially those who have kids with special needs.
Said Teresa, "If there's fevers involved and your child--you noticing their breathing is different-- that's when you need to get them to the ER."