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COVID-Related Inflammatory Syndrome Shows Up In 4 Kids, Fort Worth Hospital Says

An electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Associated Press

Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth are treating what’s considered a COVID-19-related inflammatory disease in children and adolescents.

Four patients between the ages of six and 14 who either tested positive for COVID-19 or had heavy exposure to the virus have come to Cook Children’s with a different illness: multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

Symptoms can include fever, rash, swelling, joint pain, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing.

Dr. Nicholas Rister is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cook Children’s. He said multisystem inflammatory syndrome is a lot like Kawasaki disease, another illness in children, that can also cause heart problems.

“We did mention the long-term side-effects of having inflammation in your body, especially around the heart, because I certainly think there’s a chance that these patients are going to have increased risks of heart disease in the future. I don’t know that for sure yet,” Rister said. “We’ll have to follow them.”

The World Health Organization noted in a May 15 release that reports from Europe and North America document clusters of children and adolescents with multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

Rister said the illness is affecting kids of all ages, and it's showing up weeks after patients are exposed to the coronavirus.

“You have your peaks of illness as COVID comes into your area," he said. "It’s a few weeks after that that these cases start to pop up to a level that we’ve noticed. So what we’re likely seeing is that COVID had entered our area, and enough lag time had progressed for this to show up."

Three of the patients treated at Cook Children's are now home, and one remains in the intensive care unit, Rister said.

Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Tarrant County accountability reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.