An Alexander City pediatrician has taken measures to protect his patients in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Pediatric Associates of Alexander City’s Dr. Eric Tyler said he is trying to keep those who are well, well as COVID-19 makes its way into Tallapoosa County by changing up office visits to Pediatric Associates. At the same time he is taking measures to protect others. He said most who contract it will be fine experiencing symptoms but it could be worse fora few.
“Children can pass it on to grandparents,” Tyler said. “Climbing in a lap or just being in close proximity, it can be passed. Being elderly or having two or more other health issues seems to be the key. This is not the time to visit family and especially the elderly or medically fragile.”
Tyler said family groups already living together in a shared space are safe to continue on; it’s when you get beyond that it becomes a problem.
“If you are living in the same house, you are already breathing the same air and likely sharing many of the same germs,” Tyler said. “If grandparents live in another house, it doesn’t mean it is safe to go visit them because they are family.”
Tyler said some of the symptoms of the coronavirus can include fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports symptoms as fever, cough and shortness of breath and emergency warning signs for COVID-19 include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse and bluish lips or face.
The CDC also reports children are less likely to exhibit severe symptoms.
“The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults,” the CDC reports on its website. “However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.”
Tyler said 30% of young people could carry COVID-19 and never show symptoms.
“When the child is asymptomatic, they can still be a carrier,” Tyler said. “The child might not pose a risk to themselves but they still pose a risk to others.”
Tyler’s efforts in preventing the spread of all illnesses include splitting patient visits to two locations. Patients who are well will be seen at the Kellyton office and the Alexander City location of Pediatric Associates will see only the sick.
“We can be reached by phone or the portal still,” Tyler said. “We want parents to call or register using the portal. Then once arriving at the office, contact us and wait in your vehicle outside.”
Tyler said access to the practice’s patient portal will make office visits easier.
Tyler said more strict restrictions might come for Tallapoosa County residents as coronavirus is contagious much like other illnesses in the past.
“A person with chicken pox or measles will pass it along to more than 20 people if they don’t seek treatment or do not isolate themselves,” Tyler said.
The CDC reports chicken pox to be contagious for one to two days before the rash appears with symptoms most often appearing 14 to 16 days after exposure. Some people exhibit symptoms up to three weeks after exposure.
A vaccine was developed for chicken pox and the CDC reports the mortality rate from chicken pox has declined 70% since its widespread use.
Tyler said if a person were to contract COVID-19 there is no risk from continuing to take inhaled steroids to control asthma.
He also said efforts to combat COVID-19 are moving quickly.
“If you think about it, the first case of the coronavirus in China was in December,” Tyler said. “We already have a test and getting better testing. We are already in Phase 1 trials of medicines to combat it.”
Tyler said doctors at UAB and Children’s Hospital of Alabama are leading the way with remarkable speed in fighting the coronavirus.
“Fifteen years ago, it would not have taken three months to have a test for it,” Tyler said. “It would have taken 18 months to 2 years. We also already have Phase 1 clinical trials for medications. Fifteen years ago, it would have taken three years to get to this point. There are some Herculean efforts to get results.
“We have some great brains thinking ahead. The doctors at UAB and Children’s working on this are at the helm steering this very large boat.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is proud UAB is at the forefront of the battle of COVID-19.
“Incredible that (UAB) has developed a drug used to treat select patients infected with the coronavirus both in the U.S. and in China,” Shelby said in a tweet. “This potential treatment is the result of research occurring in Alabama and could help save thousands around the world.”