Evelina Children’s Hospital is raising awareness of a rare condition in young people believed to be triggered by COVID-19.
As the News reported last year, Evelina London was one of the first hospitals to report that a new condition had been discovered in a number of children from the first weeks of the pandemic.
It is now called Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (or PIMS-TS or PIMS for short).
Dr Jenny Handforth, consultant in paediatric infectious diseases at Evelina London, stressed that the illness is very rare and her team has developed effective treatments for those who do fall ill.
According to research from hospitals across the country, around 100 children a week were being hospitalised with the condition during the second wave.
It is believed around one in 5,000 children who have the Coronavirus will later come down with PIMS-TS about a month later, regardless of the severity of the infection.
“Whilst children and young people tend to only get mild symptoms with COVID-19, the very small number of children who get PIMS-TS usually require hospital treatment as it is a serious condition,” Dr Handforth said.
“The children and young people we’ve seen with PIMS-TS have responded very well to the hospital treatment. We continue to monitor them through regular check-ups afterwards.
“So while this illness is rare, it’s something we need families to be aware of so they know what to look out for and when to contact a health professional if they are worried about their child.”
The condition is a delayed reaction to the body trying to overcome the virus and presents differently to classic COVID-19 symptoms.
Children who come down with PIMS-TS may not have seemed unwell while having COVID-19, or may have not had any symptoms of the virus at all. Symptoms of PIMS-TS include a fever, rash, and stomach pains.
In the most severe cases it is similar to serious sepsis or Kawasaki disease.
Emily West’s thirteen-year-old son Lennie was successfully treated by Evelina London for PIMS-TS in May 2020.
Later, when her son Alfie, aged eleven, developed a high temperature and severe stomach pains in January of this year she took him to the hospital’s emergency department straight away.
She said: “I didn’t want to seem like I was overreacting, dragging him straight up to the hospital, but I’m glad I did.
“After running tests and monitoring Alfie, doctors began to treat him for PIMS-TS.
“After a few days he was well enough to go home, and the same evening he was back to playing on his computer and talking to his friends.
“The hospital is amazing, what they do is amazing, and they got both of my boys better.
“Alfie has a few follow up appointments, heart scans and blood tests, and aspirin to take, but I know in a few weeks it will all be done and they both got through it.”
PIMS-ST symptoms include a prolonged fever (higher than 38C); stomach ache; diarrhoea and/or vomiting; a widespread red rash; red bloodshot eyes, strawberry red tongue, or red cracked lips; swelling of fingers and toes and generally not feeling or acting like themselves.
If your child has any of the following symptoms you should call your GP or call NHS 111 for advice. If your child develops chest pain, call 999 immediately.