Study: Kids can be asymptomatic with COVID-19 and have larger viral loads


ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — It’s almost time for back to school, and with some of those full and hybrid learning plans, that will mean kids gathering together once again. 

“Bottom line is if schools rely on symptoms alone, or just taking a child’s temperature…there could be problems with that,” Dr. Emil Lesho, an epidemiologist with Rochester Regional Health said.

Dr. Lesho says children in particular can carry the infection, yet show no symptoms. He says in a recent study with the Journal of Pediatrics, researches tried to measure the viral load in kids. “And what they found was early on, when they were the least symptomatic, they had very high levels of the virus,” he says.

Dr. Lesho says when children are at their most active, most normal selves is when they can be the most infectious. Lesho that’s what’s tricky about COVID-19. You can often times be at the most contagious when you’re feeling just fine.

“It’s important for the measures, the control measures to continue to rely on masks and social distancing,” he says.

Dr. Lesho adds we don’t have the capacity yet to rapidly test everyone going into a high-density setting like a school. During a News 8 Town Hall earlier this month, Dr. Steven Cook with pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says sticking to what we’ve learned thus far is key to going back to the classroom.

“I think what we have to understand is for our community our rates are extremely low. We’ve worked very hard to get here, we’re doing the right things and I think sticking to that will be really important,” says Dr. Cook.

Dr. Lesho says kids more than adults are prone to touching anything and everything. Schools, like gyms and bars can quickly become petri dishes for infection. “Encourage your child to practice the safe behavior that we encourage. It may be hard for them to wear a mask, but it’s important for their safety and the safety of others,” he says.

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