SAN ANTONIO – A new study that UT Health San Antonio researchers are participating in is providing some new details about the inflammatory condition associated with children who get COVID-19.
The National Institutes of Health headed up the study to investigate what is happening to a small percentage of children who survived the novel coronavirus, only to end up weeks later in the emergency room with a serious condition called multisymptom inflammatory syndrome of children (MIS-C).
One of the San Antonio doctors who pored over the case information says the report was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Alvaro Moreira, a neonatologist at UT Health San Antonio, said what was previously thought about MIS-C has changed dramatically in the months since it first showed up in New York in March.
“In some of the reports that we read, their patients underwent an abdominal surgery because they thought it was appendicitis when, in fact, it was this hyperinflammatory syndrome that we know can lead to multiple organ failure,” Moreira said.
The symptoms are much like appendicitis, but they include other signs, such as redness in the whites of the eye and diarrhea. Both are signs of deep inflammation.
MIS-C was once thought to be a Kawasaki-like disease, but now, Moreira and others say it is its own virus, temporally associated with the novel coronavirus and potentially just as deadly.
"Now we're seeing three to four weeks after a child has had coronavirus, they will present to the ER in a hyperinflammatory shock, and it's a new disease, a new entity," Moreira said.
It’s suspected that MIS-C could be a new autoimmune condition, perhaps hidden within COVID-19, that blooms weeks after the body has fought off the initial illness. Moreira said it also looks like the condition is causing long-term damage to the heart and brain of a child who gets it.
It's tricky since the latest research shows that 19% of the children had no symptoms of COVID-19 whatsoever, only to sicken suddenly weeks later.
One more thing researchers at UT Health San Antonio are concerned about is an unusual surprise they find among the children who test positive for COVID-19. Some of them are also testing positive for other viruses, like influenza, at the same time, meaning the children have two viruses at the same time.
This is dangerous, experts say, because both COVID-19 and influenza can cause severe respiratory distress, require treatment in the intensive care unit and be deadly.
“If coronavirus in and of itself can be this deadly or this severe, and you compound that with something that’s like influenza, it’s worrisome,” Moreira said.
He said children could go into the ICU requiring respiratory assistance, and if they have both the diseases, they have a higher likelihood of having a poor outcome.
For a more detailed look at the new information regarding children and COVID-19 from UT Health San Antonio and the National Institutes of Health, click here.