Cook Children’s Fort Worth seeing mystery illness in children possibly linked to COVID-19

One of the aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic that has doctors especially worried is something called multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

It's been spotted in otherwise healthy children and could be linked to COVID-19.

The mysterious illness being called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or PMIS, is similar to Kawasaki disease which includes fever and general inflammation.

“The symptoms to that are very similar to what we're seeing with these potential COVID cases, and COVID cases actually tend to be very severe,” said Dr. Nicolas Rister with Cook Children’s Fort Worth. “We're seeing things like fever and even severe abdominal pain, an outward expression of severe inflammation. So with that, you’re gonna see diffuse red rashes. You’re gonna see conjunctivitis, pain, general aches and pains. Everything just kind of hurts and swelling in various parts of your body.”

The cases in Fort Worth began showing up May 9. There've been four cases between the ages of 6 and 14. Three had exposure to someone with COVID-19. Only one actually tested positive for the virus.

“In severe cases, you're gonna see more end-organ or multi-organ dysfunction. What I mean by that is the respiratory tract. You have a lot of trouble breathing, blood pressure's gonna be very low and you’ll need support,” Dr. Rister said. “Liver and kidney damage can occur as they try to compensate for your body, and then altered mental status or even lethargy as you're having to deal with this.”

For pediatric patients, the biggest concern is potential damage the gross inflammation can do to the heart.

“And not just the heart, but the major vessels around the heart. The coronaries and the aorta,” Rister said. “And in children, as in adults, your heart is a very important organ. Damage to it can lead to myocardial infarction to heart attacks, and we want to minimize that inflammation as much as we can.”

Three of the children have recovered. One is still in ICU.

Dr. Rister says what’s important here is if your child comes down with any symptoms, have a conversation with your pediatrician about whether your child could be sick with this new mystery disease.