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The ‘unusual’ new Omicron symptom in children that all parents need to know

Young children with Omicron develop a specific symptom that usually points to another condition, experts have said.

A number of children under five who catch the variant appear to suffer from a bad cough.

Children under 5 years of age with barking cough may have Omicron

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Children under 5 years of age with barking cough may have OmicronCredit: Getty – Contributor

It is a type of cough that is usually associated with ticks – which sounds like a loud bark.

This type of cough is generally not harmful, but is uncomfortable for parents to hear and can naturally cause concern.

It comes as a series of very positive studies showing that Omicron is milder than other strains, with the risk of hospitalization 50 to 70 percent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and provide the best chance of getting through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

Doctors in the United States have said that it makes sense for Omicron to cause this type of cough because the variant settles higher in the airways.

Earlier strains of the virus would go deeper into the lungs, which was why it would cause a more serious disease.

Dr. Buddy Creech, a pediatric expert in infectious diseases and director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, told NBC News: “Small children’s airways are so narrow that it takes far less inflammation to clog them.”

This is why when young people breathe with such inflamed airways, it can easily irritate and trigger a cough that sounds like a dog or seal.

Dr. Creech said he and his colleagues have taken note of “croup-like presentations” in young children positive with Covid, adding “there is the characteristic barking cough”.

But another expert, Dr. Amy Edwards – who has also noticed an increase in croup-like cough in children with Covid – said it is less worrying.

She explained: “As pediatricians, it is strangely reassuring to see more children with tick and bronchiolitis because we have been dealing with these conditions throughout our careers.

Croup can be scary to hear, but that does not mean there is a problem with the lungs.

“The main treatment is to keep the upper airways open and clear until the inflammation subsides.”


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Omicron is widely seen as fairly mild compared to Delta, which generally produces a cold-like illness in which adults do not see coughs as often.

Symptoms in children are not so well reported, but among the most noticeable signs so far are:

1. a high temperature

2. a new, persistent cough – this means that you cough a lot, for more than an hour, or three or more cough episodes in 24 hours

3. loss or change of sense of smell or taste

4. fatigue

5. congestion or runny nose

6. headache

7. sore throat

8. loss of appetite

9. pain in the body

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