CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A CDC report with a local connection shows that children can be super-spreaders of COVID-19.
According to a Centers for Disease Control report, a 13-year-old girl in Cook County infected 11 people across four states – including Illinois – during a three-week family vacation over the summer.
The report said the initial patient was exposed to COVID-19 during a large gathering in June. A rapid antigen test four days after her exposure came back negative, before her symptoms began, the Tribune reported. Two days later she had some nasal congestion – her only symptom. That day she traveled with her parents and two brothers to attend a large family gathering, which began the following day, according to the CDC report.
She was one of 14 relatives ranging in age from 9 to 72 who shared a five-bedroom, two-bathroom home for three weeks, the report said. The CDC said relatives did not wear face masks or practice social distancing.
Eleven other family members contracted the virus. One was hospitalized and another went to the emergency room for treatment of respiratory symptoms, but both recovered, according to the report.
The three-week family gathering involved five households from four states, according to the CDC report. The report in a footnote mentioned public health departments in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Georgia, as well as the Cook County Department of Public Health; it did not give any other information about where the family gathering took place or the states where various relatives lived.
The CDC noted that the case highlights the risk of exposure during gatherings, as well as the benefits of social distancing.
“SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can spread efficiently during gathering, especially with prolonged, close contact,” the CDC report said. “Physical distancing, face mask use and hand hygiene reduce transmission; gatherings should be avoided when physical distancing and face mask use are not possible.”
The report went on to say this outbreak highlights several important issues.
“First, children and adolescents can serve as the source for COVID-19 outbreaks within families, even when their symptoms are mild. Better understanding of transmission by children and adolescents in different settings is needed to refine public health guidance,” the report said.
The Cook County Department of Public Health added the case shows that kids and teens can contract and spread the virus. It also serves as a cautionary tale before the holiday season.
“(The) outbreak highlights several important issues that are good to review before the holidays,” a Cook County Department of Public Health spokeswoman said in an email.
“Regardless of negative test results, persons should self-quarantine for 14 days after a known exposure or after travel when mandated by state, territorial, tribal or local authorities.”