Note: The original press release from PHMDC said 16 family members had been infected; the correct number is 14. This story has been updated to reflect the correct number.
A large outbreak of people diagnosed with COVID-19 was associated with a Dane County childcare center and included the B.1.1.7 variant, according to a press release from Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC).
PHMDC contact tracing revealed that the disease spread quickly among children as well as parents and childcare workers. As of Monday, 16 children and five childcare workers have tested positive, and 14 family members of these children or workers have also tested positive. Several dozen more close contacts were identified from the 35 people who tested positive.
The children are all younger than 7, PHMDC said in an email to Madison365.
“We know the variants are more infectious, and younger children can’t be vaccinated yet, so this is an important reminder that we must all continue to take precautions. Get tested if you are showing any symptoms, get your children tested if they are showing symptoms, and get vaccinated as soon as you can. The vaccines are highly effective against severe disease and death from COVID-19 infection, even with the most prevalent variants,” PHMDC director Janel Heinrich said in a statement.
Most of the children associated with the outbreak had very mild symptoms. This point underscores the importance of testing, especially among childcare or school-attending children who show any signs of COVID-19, PHMDC said.
The PHMDC release also said children who have a known exposure or household case should also be tested, even if they’re not showing symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 that are common in children can include fever, cough, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, and nasal congestion. PHMDC cautioned against mistaking these symptoms for seasonal allergies and urged parents to get their children tested and rule out COVID-19 first.
Another way to reduce transmission within childcare and school settings is for all adults who interact with children to be fully vaccinated, PHMDC said, noting that everyone aged 16 and older is now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. People can sign up on the Department of Health Service vaccine registry at vaccinate.wi.gov . To find additional vaccination options, visit our website at publichealthmdc.com/vax.
“As more and more adults are vaccinated, I hope we are able to form a circle of protection around our children so that everyone in our community can stay healthy,” Heinrich said in a statement.
Variants are prevalent in certain US states, including Florida, Michigan, and Minnesota. Unvaccinated travelers returning to Wisconsin from recent travel are encouraged to follow Centers for Disease Control & Prevention travel guidelines, which include getting tested 3-5 days after returning from travel and staying home and self-quarantining for a full 7 days after travel.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should follow the same isolation guidelines regardless of disease strain; however, more infectious variants make it all the more important to follow public health isolation and quarantine instructions to prevent the spread of disease.