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Coronavirus spreading among south Texas children

It's not easy to determine if the Delta variant is responsible, but health experts in the San Antonio area say they're treating more children for COVID-19.

SAN ANTONIO — As the Delta variant overtakes other coronavirus strains in Texas, San Antonio doctors say they're treating more children for COVID-19. 

"There is a definite concern that children are being affected more, and it could be because of the Delta variant," University Health pediatrician Dr. Mandie Tibball Svatek said. 

"We need to be aware of this uptick in cases. We need to be aware that this Delta variant is present and causing potentially more kids to be hospitalized," she continued.

Metro Health says current data does not indicate a spike in cases among children, but a spokesperson noted the public health authority will crunch more numbers this week that will offer a closer look at latest trends. 

But Svatek says she's treated two children for COVID-19 so far this month. Her colleagues have treated more, she says. 

"Now there's some consistency," she said. "Instead of really, maybe seeing one a month - or sometimes more, now we're having a sort of uptick in the number of cases that becomes concerning." 

Comal county epidemiologist Connie Alaniz says she's noticed more cases in children, especially in the last two weeks. 

Doctors say the Delta variant is 60% more infectious than the 'original' coronavirus strain. It's not entirely clear if the mutation produces more severe symptoms. 

The virus has mutates to survive. Previous iterations of the coronavirus were not especially harmful to infected children. 

"They were kind of thought to just be carriers," Svatek said. Now, more children require medical attention. 

She added she's treated one child with both COVID-19 and RSV, another respiratory illness. 

Doctors describe a worst-case scenario, where children who are not old enough for the shot catch the virus at school and bring it home to unvaccinated or at-risk family members.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended Monday that all students wear masks in schoolhouses, regardless of their vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control has not yet gone so far, instead recommending indoor masking only for the unvaccinated.