HOUSTON – It was announced Thursday that a local boy between the ages 10 and 19 is Houston’s first pediatric COVID-19 death without underlying health conditions, according to the Houston Health Department.
Health officials said the boy, who was unvaccinated, died in late July at a Houston hospital. Officials said he tested positive for the virus but it is unknown if he was infected with a variant of the virus.
The health department is unable to provide further identification of the child due to privacy laws.
“On behalf of the City of Houston, I extend my condolences to the boy’s family during their time of grief,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “The death of a loved one under any circumstance is heartbreaking, especially when we have the power to slow the spread and save lives. I encourage all eligible Houstonians ages 12 and older to get vaccinated and wear a face mask in large crowds or areas where you cannot socially distance.”
KPRC2 spoke to Dr. Diana Nguyen who works as a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UTMB. She says they have seen an uptick in cases in the past month.
“We are seeing an increase in all ages under 18. It’s not just 10 to 19. Right now, 100% of patients that we have under the age of 50 in our hospital are unvaccinated,” Dr. Nguyen said.
Dr. Nguyen said some kids who test positive for the virus can have very mild symptoms like a fever and cough during the first week, but their symptoms could get worse going into the second week.
“We are seeing this a lot. These children are coming in after they’ve been sick for about 10 days and basically what happens is the virus causes overwhelming inflammation in the body,” she said.
Dr. Nguyen said there are signs all parents should look for if their child does not get better.
“They are increasingly having worsening cough. They are having difficulty breathing. They are not able to drink and get extremely dehydrated which can drop their blood pressures,” she said.
The department reported that the city’s six previous pediatric deaths all had underlying health conditions. Dr. Nguyen said parents should consider getting their children vaccinated when they turn 12.
“It has shown that the benefits of the vaccine which are to decrease the risk of getting an infection or decrease the severity of infection which far outweighs any potential risk,” Dr. Nguyen said.