New CDC research shows young children can spread COVID-19, even if asymptomatic

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Students with face masks go upstairs to their classrooms at the Petri primary school in Dortmund, western Germany, on August 12, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Children infected with COVID-19 can still transmit the virus and infect adults, even if they are asymptomatic, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the CDC, children older than 10 can efficiently transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, limited data is available on SARS-CoV-2 transmission from young children, particularly in child care settings. 

The researchers analyzed data from 184 people with links to three child care facilities in Salt Lake County, Utah, from April to July.

According to the report, two of the facility outbreaks began with staff members who had household contacts with the virus but still went to work.

Using contact tracing data, the CDC found that 54 percent of infections across three separate facilities occurred in children. 

Researchers found 12 children contracted the virus, with an average age of 7. Those children spread the virus to at least 12 additional people outside the centers, who were mostly members of their households. 

Six of these cases occurred in mothers, and three cases occurred in siblings of the infected children.

At least two of the children who spread the virus were asymptomatic. The CDC said one mother who was presumably infected by her asymptomatic child was subsequently hospitalized. 

Among the seven cases in which children were symptomatic, a fever was the most common sign, followed by a headache and sore throat.

The CDC said mitigation measures like wearing masks can likely help reduce transmission, especially for staff working with children under the age of 2, who may be too young for a mask.

But young children can still transmit the virus, as seen in one of the facility outbreaks where an 8-month-old transmitted the virus to both parents. 


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