TWO children have died from the Kawasaki-like disease linked to the coronavirus, experts have revealed.
A UK study across children’s intensive care units looked at data from 78 children, 15 of which were admitted to intensive care wards after experiencing symptoms of a rare inflammatory illness.
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They received treatment over a six-week period between April and May 2020 for the condition which has now been named as Paediatric Inflammatory Multi-System Syndrome.
Research published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health found that while the majority of children were discharged from hospital within a week, two children sadly died of the condition.
In the last few months there have been several reports of children being admitted to hospital with inflammation.
This has been compared to Toxic Shock Syndrome and Kawasaki disease.
Reports of children suffering from the condition were seen in several states in the US, the UK and Europe.
What is paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PMIS)
PMIS is a new systemic inflammatory response to coronavirus that doctors believe can develop up to three weeks after Covid-19. The rare condition is similar to Kawasaki disease, toxic shock syndrome and sepsis.
What are the symptoms?
In children and teenagers, a persistent fever, over 38.5C, which has gone on for more than three days.
Most children will also suffer respiratory problems and low blood pressure.
Other possible signs include rashes, conjunctivitis, swollen hands and feet, stomach ache, diarrhoea, vomiting, enlarged lymph nodes, fainting and confusion.
What are the risks?
PMIS appears to be relatively rare, experts believe. There have been between 75 and 100 cases in the UK. There have been five deaths worldwide, including a 14-year-old boy from London.
Most children affected are between the age of five and 16. None had any underlying conditions.
Is it linked to coronavirus?
Experts are carrying out research to try to understand more but they are confident PMIS could be related to Covid-19.
Dr Liz Whittaker, a paediatrician who has treated some of the cases in London, said that most of the children had tested negative for Covid-19 at the time they arrived at hospital.
But all of them had positive antibodies to the virus, which suggests they were infected at some point in the previous few weeks.
The study brings together the largest number of case studies where children have needed to be placed on life support.
Historical hospital data revealed that there had been an average of an 11 fold increase, with a peak at 26-fold in intensive care admissions compared to other inflammatory conditions.
A fever was present in all cases and children with the illness also presented with shock, abdominal pain and vomiting.
Of those who were admitted to hospital, 78 per cent were from the BAME community (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic).
The data also revealed that most of the children were not infected with Covid-19, but did have antibodies to the virus – meaning they had previously been infected.
Researchers said a high quality of intensive care is needed for children who present with the syndrome.
The lead researcher on the paper and consultant paediatric intensivist at Nottingham Children’s Hospital, Dr Patrick Davies said the key to successful treatment is “close collaboration with many specialists”.
This is while Dr Barney Scholefield, senior author and paediatric intensive care consultant at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and researcher at the University of Birmingham said: “A large group of children’s intensive care clinicians from across the NHS have rapidly worked together to help understand this condition.
“The successful collaboration has resulted in a wealth of information to help treat cases currently and in any future waves of COVID-19.”
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Other experts said it was important to note that this was a new condition.
Dr Padmanabhan Ramnarayan, senior author and consultant in paediatric intensive care retrieval at Great Ormond Street Hospital said that despite this clinicians across the world have already made tremendous progress in understanding it.
“However, many aspects of the condition remain unclear, such as why it only affects some children or what the long-term implications of having this condition are.
“One of our findings is that complications such as coronary aneurysms do occur in a small minority of patients. This clearly highlights the importance of following up on these patients.”
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