ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – A new mystery illness has been infecting children and researchers believe it might be linked to COVID-19. We spoke with Dr. Beck from WesTex Urgent Care about the illness to learn what exactly pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome is.
“The syndrome that’s being reported in a small amount, it’s not a high percentage. The syndrome that you’re referring to in a small amount of children that have had COVID-19 is similar to kawasaki disease. Kawasaki disease is a syndrome that is more common in children less than five and it can be characterized by various things including fever and a rash especially on the torso and the face, the palms of hands and soles of the feet. The big thing with kawasaki disease is that it can sometimes be associated with aneurysms forming in the arteries of the heart. The coronary arteries. That’s why children diagnosed with kawasakis disease typically need to see a pediatric cardiologist and there are specific recommendations for treatment including IV gamma globulins or immunoglobulans that can be used to treat kawasakis disease. So the syndrome that we’re seeing right now is very similar, well we don’t think it’s the same thing but and what we have noticed to is not necessarily inflammation of the or increased risk of aneurysm in the coronary arteries in these children as much as we’re seeing some inflammation of the heart itself or the heart muscle.”
Doctors are still learning about the illness but it does seem to be affecting an older age range than kawasaki disease.
“We’re seeing it in some teenagers and typically you know children that are over five years of age. So it’s out there, we’re learning more about it, um, but it’s only in a very small percentage of the children that actually had COVID-19.”
While we haven’t seen any cases locally, Dr. Beck says it’s still something to look out for. The symptoms for both of these diseases are very similar.
“Well if your child did have, was diagnosed with COVID-19 or if there was a suspicion of COVID-19, the symptoms of kawasaki disease can like I said include high fever, a rash that can be anywhere on the body but specifically we don’t see very many rashes that affect the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet so that’s one of the symptoms you might experience as well as what we call a strawberry tongue where the tongue is very red and sometimes inflamed. Those are the main symptoms and also with the PMIS that we’re seeing associated with COVID-19 there tends to be more children with GI symptoms that we don’t see in kawasaki disease. Things like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.”
If you start noticing any of these symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately because both illnesses require specific treatment.
“If you have concerns that you’re child may have kawasakis disease or PMIS in this case after COVID-19 then please, please contact your healthcare provider because they do need some special follow up that is not a part of the normal follow up for coronavirus. Like I said these children that have kawasaki disease or PMIS may need an ultrasound or echo-cardiogram of their heart to look at either the heart or the coronary arteries to look for aneurysms or enlargement or inflammation of the heart itself…Again, and I did mention, that it’s in by far the minority, it’s a very low instance. It’s out there but it’s not common at all.”
WesTex Urgent Care is still offering testing for COVID-19 and for the presence of antibodies. If you’re interested in either of those tests, visit their website to make an appointment. They have locations in Midland and Odessa.