Children's Hospital Colorado

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Kids

Urgent or Emergency Care?

If you believe your child needs immediate attention and you have concerns for a life-threatening emergency, call 911. Not sure what counts as urgent and what's an emergency when your child is sick or injured? When it can't wait, know where to take your kids.

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What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19, is the infectious illness caused by the new coronavirus that was first discovered in late 2019. Due to the wide spread of the virus, COVID-19 is now a pandemic affecting many countries across the world, including the United States. Studies show that COVID-19 is more serious for adults over age 65 and people with certain underlying medical conditions than for the average child. However, even healthy children can become sick, some seriously, and can spread COVID-19.

What causes COVID-19?

COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus that first appeared in December 2019. The official name of this novel (new) coronavirus is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, abbreviated as SARS-CoV-2. The virus SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19.

Where did SARS-CoV-2 come from?

SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus that has not been previously identified in the human population. It was first discovered in the Wuhan province of China in late 2019. Early studies suggest that it originated from an animal source, most likely bats.

In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections (lung infections) that range from the common cold to much more serious diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Are the coronavirus and COVID-19 the same thing?

Though you may hear these terms used interchangeably in the news, the virus and the disease caused by the virus have different names. More specifically:

  • Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness in animals or humans.
  • Though “the coronavirus” commonly refers to SARS-CoV-2, technically, there are many different coronaviruses.
  • SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the specific coronavirus that causes the viral respiratory illness COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic.

Learn more about the names and differences for terms that describe coronavirus disease from the World Health Organization.

COVID-19 is a new disease, and doctors and scientists are still learning about it. Though most children with COVID-19 tend to have milder forms of the disease, kids are not immune to COVID-19 and can still get sick.

Click to expand the accordions below to learn more about COVID-19 in children and teens.

COVID-19 in kids and teens

Signs and symptoms

Tests and diagnosis

Treatment

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)

Additional resources

FAQs about COVID-19 in kids

This page was updated on Oct. 20, 2020. Due to the shifting nature of the pandemic, recommendations can change quickly. Please follow all health and safety guidelines set by your local public health authorities. Reference the CDC, CDPHE and WHO for ongoing updates on COVID-19 and the pandemic.

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We're here when you need us with the same safe, high-quality care we've always offered, even during the pandemic. Now, in many cases, you can get that care without even leaving home because we offer virtual visits across every one of our specialties.

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