Reports that a baby was diagnosed with corona virus in China on February 5, just 30 hours before birth, spread quickly across the globe.
This is the first case of an infant diagnosed with the virus that has led to the death of 900 people and some 40,000 infected mostly from China but similar cases of the virus have been reported in over 30 countries. However, very little children are infected.
A recent study on the disease was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and focused on patients at Jinyintan hospital in Wuhan – the city that is the center of the outbreak. The study revealed that more than half of the infected population was adults aged 40 to 59 only 10% of patients under the age of 39. “The incidence of children infected with corona virus is very low,” the researchers have written.
But why is it? There are many theories, but health professionals do not have the right answer as to why cases of children infected with corona virus are so rare.
“For reasons that are unclear, children have been diagnosed either with or without infection but only on a small scale,” Ian Jones, a professor of infectious diseases at Reading University, told the BBC.
This may mean that children get only a minor infection and not to the point of starting to show symptoms and eventually those children are not referred for further tests, admission or even more cases. Nathalie MacDermott, lecturer at the University of London, agrees.
“Children who are over 5 years old and teenagers seem to have a strong immune system to deal with the virus,” she says.
“They may still be infected but their infection is very weak or they may not show any signs of infection.”
This is also not the first time this has happened, in a virus outbreak such as that of Sars, which also originated in China in 2003 and caused close to 800 deaths and it was then revealed that the virus was transmitted to children.
In 2007, experts from the US Centers for Disease Control, identified 135 cases of children related to the Sars virus but said that no deaths were reported among children and adolescents. “