During the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, it appeared that children were protected and essentially unaffected. There were relatively few children who got sick from the virus, and nearly all of those who did made full recoveries. Unfortunately, children do not seem as protected against this mysterious virus as we initially believed. There is a new disease, specific to children, that appears to be associated with COVID-19 infection. The disease has been given the name Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS).
PMIS can cause inflammation and compromise the function of many different organs in the body including the heart, the kidneys, the liver, and the gastrointestinal tract. The syndrome becomes apparent weeks after a COVID-19 infection. Although most children experiencing PMIS test positive for COVID-19, some do not.
Parents should watch for fever, a red and blotchy rash, diarrhea and vomiting as signs of PMIS. If these symptoms develop, parents should bring their child to the nearest emergency department immediately.
Fortunately, PMIS is rare and although children can become very sick, there are effective treatments and almost all children recover. These treatments include intravenous medications of general (non-COVID) antibodies and steroids.
Currently, the exact cause of the syndrome is not known, but an underlying cause seems to be an overly revved up immune system. Children’s Hospital New Orleans is involved with multi-institutional studies to help determine the cause and the best treatments of this emerging disease.
For more information, check out our COVID-19 Resources for Families.
Dr. Thomas Kimball
Dr. Thomas Kimball is the Director of the Heart Center and Division Chief of Cardiology at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. A native of Oakland, California, he received his undergraduate degree at Stanford University. Dr. Kimball attended medical school at New York University followed by a pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. He completed a cardiology fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and remained at that institution as an attending cardiologist for 34 years. He is currently the Nelson K Ordway Professor of Pediatrics at the LSU Health Center. He is board-certified in both Pediatrics and Pediatric Cardiology. His clinical interests include non-invasive cardiac imaging and pediatric coronary artery disease (Kawasaki Disease and congenital anomalies of the coronaries). His research interests relate to the cardiovascular effects of obesity and decreasing patients lost to follow-up rates. Dr. Kimball values the physician/patient relationship because it is career-defining to see his patients who were once critically ill babies develop into healthy husbands/wives, college graduates and elite athletes.
A little something extra about Dr. Kimball
He has run a marathon in every state with his favorites being Disney in Florida, Boston, New York, Deadwood in South Dakota and, of course, his very last one – Missoula, Montana!