Fort Worth

Local Children Develop Mysterious Syndrome Linked to COVID-19

Fort Worth pediatricians say four children, ages 6 to 14, have been treated for the syndrome, similar to a heart condition called Kawasaki Disease.

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Fort Worth pediatricians say they have treated four local children for what they believe is the mysterious inflammatory illness related to COVID-19.

Since May 9, four patients have been treated at Cook Children’s Medical Center for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C).

The children range in age from 6 to 14.

“All of these children presented to the hospital with symptoms that resembled a severe case of Kawasaki disease,” said Dr. Nicholas Rister, an infectious diseases physician at Cook Children’s.

Kawasaki disease is an illness that creates inflammation in blood vessels with no proven cause, but is generally thought to follow various infections after they have otherwise resolved.

Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases, discusses a mysterious coronavirus-related illness being reported in some North Texas children.

The American Heart Association said physicians around the world have recently noted that a small number of children exposed to COVID-19 have an emerging condition with features overlapping toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, together with cardiac inflammation.

Rister said the patients with MIS-C arrived at Cook Children’s following exposure to COVID-19 and had symptoms including fever, abdominal pain and outward evidence of inflammation, including diffuse rashes, conjunctivitis and swelling.

In the more severe cases, evidence of multi-organ dysfunction, including respiratory distress, low blood pressures, liver and kidney damage and altered mental status were also seen.

All four patients were tested for COVID-19. Three tests came back negative and one was positive. Rister said those three children had known exposure to someone with the virus.

“We believe all of these cases are related to COVID-19,” Rister said. “The three negative results are evidence of how far the infection had progressed, resulting in the inflammatory syndrome.”

Fort Worth pediatricians say they have treated four local children for what they believe is the mysterious inflammatory illness related to COVID-19.

Three of the patients have been released from the hospital. One remains in the pediatric intensive care unit.

In addition to the recent appearance of MIS-C cases, the infectious diseases team at Cook Children’s is also looking closely at increased reports of unexplained fevers in North Texas.

Symptoms of more severe MIS-C cases include severe abdominal pain, shock from low blood pressure, respiratory distress and lethargy.

If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately.

Less severe symptoms include fever, abdominal pain and rash.

Parents should call their pediatrician if these symptoms appear.

"We need to make this a part of the conversation" Rister said. "When your child has a fever or inflammation, we now need to include COVID into the discussion for the foreseeable future as we have continued cases in our area."

Treatment with antibodies purified from donated blood, immune globulin therapy and steroids restored heart function in the majority of children with COVID-related multi-system inflammatory syndrome, according to new research published Monday in Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association.

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