Rare disease seen in children is ‘delayed immune reaction’ to COVID-19, say doctors

Katherine Johnston (23 May, 2020)

All were previously fit and well before becoming ill

8631The Evelina London Children's Hospital (pictured)

A new hyper-inflammatory disease seen in children is now thought to be a delayed immune reaction to COVID-19, as experts say there could have been up to 100 cases in the UK so far.

Last week, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Professor Russell Viner, said the number of cases across the country stood between ’75 and 100?, and said the evidence pointed to the syndrome being the body’s delayed overreaction to the virus.

He said numbers were now declining along with overall COVID-19 infection levels, and reiterated that the complication was very rare.

The youngest victim of the disease in the country is believed to have been eight-month-old Alexander Parsons, who died in hospital in Plymouth.

As the News reported last week, Evelina Children’s Hospital recorded its first death from the illness, a fourteen-year-old who spent six days in intensive care.

More than 40 seriously ill children have been admitted to Evelina for treatment since March, with the majority responding well to treatment.

The illness has the hallmarks of the rare Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome; with symptoms including fever, conjunctivitis, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, rashes, headaches and vomiting.

Some have tested positive for COVID-19 but others have not. All were previously fit and well before becoming ill.

A hospital in Bergamo, Italy, was one of the first to notice a rise in cases – reporting a thirty-fold increase in children presenting with this type of inflammatory syndrome.

There are believed to have been under 300 cases in Europe but in New York, which has been badly hit by Coronavirus, 100 children have been diagnosed.

Researchers from hospitals across the UK say they have now established a link with COVID-19, saying the symptoms come on weeks after infection – meaning they could test negative for the virus but have successfully fended it off in the past.

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