Monika L Dietrich, Elizabeth B Norton, Debra Elliott, Ashley R Smira, Julie A Rouelle, Nell G Bond, Karen Aime-Marcelin, Alisha Prystowsky, Rebecca Kemnitz, Arunava Sarma, Sarah Talia Himmelfarb, Neha Sharma, Addison E Stone, Randall Craver, Alyssa R Lindrose, Leslie A Smitley, Robert B Uddo, Leann Myers, Stacy S Drury, John S Schieffelin, James E Robinson, Kevin J Zwezdaryk
Children (less than 19 years) account for 20% of the US population but currently represent less than 2% of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Because infected children often have few or no symptoms and may not be tested, the extent of infection in children is poorly understood.
During the March 18th-May 15th 2020 Louisiana Stay At Home Order, 1690 blood samples from 812 individuals from a Childrens Hospital were tested for antibodies to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein. Demographics, COVID-19 testing, and clinical presentation abstracted from medical records were compared with local COVID-19 cases.
In total, 62 subjects (7.6%) were found to be seropositive. The median age was 11 years with 50.4% female. The presenting complaint of seropositive patients was chronic illness (43.5%). Only 18.2% had a previous positive COVID-19 PCR or antibody test. Seropositivity was significantly associated with parish (counties), race, and residence in a low-income area. Importantly, seropositivity was linearly correlated with cumulative COVID-19 case number for all ages by parish.
In a large retrospective study, the seropositivity prevalence for SARS-CoV-2 in children in Louisiana during the mandated Stay At Home Order was 7.6%. Residence location, race, and lower socioeconomic factors were linked to more frequent seropositivity in children and correlated to regional COVID-19 case rates. Thus, a significant number of children in Louisiana had SARS-CoV-2 infections that went undetected and unreported and may have contributed to virus transmission.