‘Very scary’: New inflammatory syndrome affecting some Utah kids after COVID-19 infections

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Pediatric doctors in Utah are seeing some children develop a new syndome weeks after a coronavirus infection and while it’s extremely rare, they say it can be severe and even potentially deadly.

It’s called MIS-C for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndome in Children and it can affect babies up to 20 year olds. Doctors started seeing it in the past few months in places like Italy and New York City.

Dr. Andrew Pavia, is a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist for University of Utah Health and Primary Children’s Hospital.

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“It sounds very scary,” Dr. Pavia said Thursday. “Because any time you associate the word new with a disease of children as parents we become very concerned.”

Doctors at University of Utah Health and Primary Children’s Hospital say there are only about 200 cases worldwide but a few of them are here. 

Dr. Jill Sweeney works at Primary Children’s Pediatric Critical Care Unit.

“Of the handful of patients that we’ve had, one has required admission to the ICU and that patient did need medications to help support their blood pressure,” Dr. Sweeney said. “These patients at their sickest present with shock and low blood pressure and they can sometimes present similar to other overwhelming infections.”

Similar to Kawasaki Disease, patients with MIS-C are attacked by their own bodies in response to the virus.

“The immune system reacts to a trigger and either overreacts becoming very active,” Pediatric Rheumatologist Dr. Erin Treemarcki said. “Or is unable to turn itself off and keeps producing levels of inflammation or sometimes both.”

That can include inflammation of the heart, weakening the muscle and its ability to circulate blood. So what should parents look for?

“If your child has prolonged fever. If they have severe abdominal pain with or without a rash or red eyes,” Dr. Pavia said. “You need to contact your healthcare provider and they may feel the need to be seen in person. Many of the patients that have been described so far have developed severe disease and often ended up in the Intensive Care Unit because of the involvement of the heart muscle.” 

Doctors emphasize that, with treatment, most kids with MIS-C recover in three to five days.

Since this syndrome only develops in kids who have had COVID-19, they say the best defense if to avoid the virus in the first place through proper hygiene and social distancing. 

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