Re­port: Zika mild in teens, young chil­dren

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Mike Sto­bbe

NEW YORK — A first look at U.S. teens and young chil­dren who were infected with Zika sug­gests the virus typ­i­cally causes at worst only a mild ill­ness.

Zika in­fec­tion dur­ing preg­nancy can cause se­vere brain-re­lated birth de­fects.

But the re­port seems to con­firm health of­fi­cials’ be­lief that in­fec­tions af­ter birth in chil­dren are sim­i­lar to in­fec­tions in adults — most peo­ple don’t feel sick, and some de­velop only mild symp­toms like fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes.

But some ex­perts say there are not enough data to an­swer ques­tions about the virus’ po­ten­tial im­pact on the de­vel­op­ing brains of in­fants and small chil­dren.

The re­port, re­leased Fri­day by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, is based on 158 in­fec­tions this year in kids aged 1 month to 17 years.

All the chil­dren picked up the virus while trav­el­ing abroad, and the bulk of them were older kids in their teens.

Only 16 were age 4 or younger and only four were un­der a year old.

Ex­perts are wor­ried about young chil­dren be­cause they can be more se­verely af­fected by in­fec­tions in gen­eral, and be­cause their brains are de­vel­op­ing rapidly.

“I’m re­ally con­cerned about birth through the first birth­day,” said Dr. Car­rie By­ing­ton, a Univer­sity of Utah re­searcher who fo­cuses on in­fec­tions in chil- dren.

None of the chil­dren stud­ied died, and none de­vel­oped a par­a­lyz­ing condition seen in some infected adults called Guil­lain-Barre syn­drome.

But Guil­lain-Barre is rare, seen only once in ev­ery sev­eral thou­sand Zika ill­nesses in adults.

It may be that kids can still get it, but there weren’t enough cases for it to sur­face, said Dr. Ganesh­waran Mochida, a pe­di­atric neu­rol­o­gist at Bos­ton Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal.

GETTY

Florida Depart­ment of Health work­ers pack­age a urine sam­ple to be tested for the Zika virus in Mi­ami Beach.

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