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5-month-old girl hospitalized months after getting COVID-19

"In the short 5 months Zo has been with us, she has gone through quite a lot; she is tough, strong, and beautiful."

A baby born soon after Minnesota went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic is in the hospital, battling a viral reaction that may be linked to the coronavirus. 

Zoe Suchta, when she was just two months old, was diagnosed with COVID-19, as were her parents, Danny and Brenda Suchta, according to a Go Fund Me page set up to help the family with her medical expenses.

Danny, not long after Zoe was born, started working as a nursing assistant in a Minneapolis hospital, taking the risk so he could help support his family, the page says. 

He ended up getting COVID-19, and so did Brenda and Zoe.

“The unit I was working on was a COVID-19 response unit and that was the first wave,” Danny told KARE 11. “The time that I invested there, I wound up getting sick, and I brought it home, through work.”

Brenda and Zoe recovered, while Danny continues to experience "lingering neurological symptoms and fatigue," the GoFundMe. 

And then, a few months after having COVID-19, Zoe got sick "very quickly and unexpectedly," the page says, noting she started having problems breathing last week. 

She was admitted to Children's Hospital on Sept. 10, and has been there since, hooked up to an oxygen machine to help her breathe having been diagnosed with Severe Viral Bronchiolitis. The 5-month-old girl also being fed through an IV, the page says. 

Doctors are trying to determine whether the lingering effects of COVID-19 contributed to Zoe's reaction.

"In the short 5 months Zo has been with us, she has gone through quite a lot; she is tough, strong, and beautiful," according to an update on the Go Fund Me page Monday. 

Zoe is completely dependent on her high-flow oxygen machine, the page notes, but doctors are hoping to get her off the machine in the next few days, according to an update on Monday.

"It has been a long recovery for them all, and it has taken quite a toll on them not just physically, but also getting back on their feet financially as a new little family," the update said.

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Danny and Brenda had been working full time, but since Zoe was hospitalized they "have not left her side" and will likely be at the hospital until at least the end of the week, if not longer.

The page is has a goal of raising $7,500 for the family, saying they're facing many missed days of work and large medical bills. The fundraiser will "allow them to focus on getting Zoe healthy so she can come back home, and get them back on their feet again after a really rough year of health struggles."

Severe Viral Bronchiolitis can develop in children from viral infections including from coronaviruses. A study by Harvard Medical School found that SVB more commonly develops when a child has "co-infections," such as a coronavirus combined with another respiratory illness like influenza or RSV.

COVID-19 in kids

It is not as common for children to show symptoms of COVID-19 as it is for adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, but children can still contract the virus and get sick. 

In Minnesota, as of Tuesday, 1,702 children age 4 and younger have tested positive, and one child among that age group has died, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) statistics show.

Hospitalizations among children age 4 and younger are lower compared to other age groups. According to MDH data from Sept. 10 (the most recent of this type of data available), when there were 1,637 lab-confirmed cases of children age 4 and younger, 67 kids required hospitalization and 16 were in the ICU.

Despite evidence that shows most children don't develop serious illnesses related to COVID-19, there are still unknowns when it comes to the long-term effects of the virus. 

Most children and adults who have coronavirus recover fully within a few weeks, the Mayo Clinic says. However, some people, even those who had mild cases, can experience symptoms for months after initially recovering from the virus. Those symptoms include fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, headache, joint pain, organ damage and blood clots.

MDH and other health experts are still studying the long-term effects of the virus to learn how it will impact people over time. This is why health officials stress the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing and staying home when you're sick. 

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