‘It was terrifying’: Alta. mother recounts 1-year-old daughter’s bout of COVID-19

Kirsten Fountain did not expect to spend her daughter’s first birthday dealing with a severe case of COVID-19.

Layla woke up on Monday with a steady fever of 100 degrees, vomiting, aches, and nasal drip to the point she had trouble swallowing. After a rapid test, Fountain said her daughter was positive for COVID-19.

“She was screaming and screaming,” Fountain told CTV News Edmonton. “She wouldn’t take milk. She didn’t want to play. Nothing could calm her down.

“It was terrifying,” Fountain added, as her daughter kept falling asleep and making jerky movements as she was sore.

“A lot of people say, it’s just a cold, and they’ll get over it,” Fountain said. “The last time she had a cold, she did not have vomiting, fever. She didn’t scream constantly.”

One of the hardest parts, Fountain said, was the lack of medical support for her daughter. She said the family’s pediatrician was unreachable and that she could not get through to a nurse on Health Link 811.

“I’m pretty much going on gut feelings here,” she said. “I’m making sure she is getting enough solids and liquids, keeping an eye on her temperature, and giving her Tylenol to keep her comfortable.”

One-year-old Leila developed a fever, aches and runny nose after she tested positive for COVID-19. (Supplied)

Fountain says she and her husband have been trying to do everything they could throughout the pandemic to minimize exposure to COVID-19, including getting fully vaccinated and following public health measures.

“We don’t know anyone that we have been around that has been exposed or is COVID positive,” she said. “Now, with the different testing (rules), it’s hard to trace those kinds of things.

“It’s hard because you don’t want to keep them isolated completely. So we’ve had a small group of family that we’ve seen,” she added. “At work, it’s hard to know who you are around, who’s vaccinated or sick.”

Dr. Shazam Mithani, an emergency room physician, says data shows one-in-10 kids who test positive for COVID-19 and develop a mild infection is likely to be diagnosed with long-COVID.

Concerns from her and other doctors come as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Alberta. Since the start of the pandemic, 589 Albertans aged 19 and under have been admitted to hospital with the disease, including 100 in the past two weeks.

According to the province, 138 infants have been hospitalized during the pandemic, including 26 who were sent to the ICU. Almost 110 one to four-year-olds received treatment in hospital, with 14 requiring intensive care.

When it comes to preventing infection, Dr. James Talbot recommends vaccination for those aged five and older, wearing N95 masks, and avoiding social gatherings.

“The vaccine is not rolling out quickly enough,” he said, with only 40 per cent of eligible children receiving their first dose of pediatric vaccine.

“(There’s) a bad combination of the virus being allowed to spread widely in the community and a large number of kids with low immunity or at best partial immunity,” he added. “The kids are at same risk of anyone else of being exposed to the virus.”

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