Up to 100 kids a week are being admitted to hospital with a Kawasaki-like disease that strikes just weeks after Covid-19.
The condition, also known as paediatric inflammatory multi-system syndrome (PIMS), has caused alarm and confusion among parents and doctors alike.
One of the symptoms of the illness is a rash and inflammation
At the start of the pandemic children were being admitted to hospital with the condition, which doctors at first thought was Kawasaki disease – a condition which mainly affects babies and toddlers.
An unpublished report seen by The Guardian has revealed that four out of five children getting PIMS after contracting Covid-19 were previously healthy.
The main signs of PIMS include a high temperature, a rash and tummy pains.
The report stated that around one in 5,000 children get the condition after contracting Covid – regardless of whether or not they had symptoms.
The three main symptoms of Covid-19 are a new persistent cough, a high temperature and a loss of taste and smell.
If you have any of these symptoms then you should get a test and isolate immediately.
WHAT IS PIMS AND HOW CAN YOU SPOT IT?
PIMS was first reported in April, after young patients needed intensive care following serious inflammation of the body.
- Inflammation is a normal response of the body’s immune system to fight infection
- But sometimes the immune system can go into overdrive and begin to attack the whole body
- The inflammation can spread to blood vessels, particularly those around the heart
- If untreated, the inflammation can cause tissue damage, organ failure or even death
- Some symptoms include: a rash, abdominal symptoms such as stomach ache, diarrhoea, being sick, a high temperature for more than three days
- PIMS seems to be linked to Covid-19 because most of the children either had the virus or tested positive for antibodies indicating they had been infected
- This syndrome is very rare, and most children will not be seriously affected.
However experts previously warned that children may experience different symptoms when it comes to Covid-19.
Experts from the ZOE Symptom Tracker app stated that kids display symptoms such as fatigue, headache, fever, sore throat and loss of appetite.
Last month one mum revealed that her little one had PIMS after having Covid-19 but displaying no symptoms.
Seven-year-old Logan Walsh was in intensive care with the condition in December.
The boy and his mum, Jessica Walsh, contracted Covid-19 in November, but at the beginning Logan did not snow any symptoms.
However, six weeks later, Jessica, 43, called the emergency services after her son began to vomit and had a fever, Chronicle Live reported.
Logan Walsh was diagnosed with PIMS six weeks after catching Covid-19Credit: BPM Media
Logan’s condition was initially dismissed as a stomach bug, Jessica said.
But by December 16 he started feeling worse – his hands and feet began to swell and a rash started appearing.
Logan was later transferred to Leeds General Infirmary, where the family met a specialist who diagnosed the boy with PIMS-TS.
The report seen by The Guardian also states that 75 per cent of the children worst affected by PIMS were from the BAME community (black, Asian, or ethnic minority).
Since the pandemic began, two children are believed to have died from PIMS.
Experts say that cases of the illness are higher than in the first wave of the pandemic and say that hospitals have admitted around 100 kids a week compared to around 30 a week last April.
Since the start of the year around 12 to 15 kids a day have fallen ill and experts say most cases have been in London and the south east where the new variant pushed infections up and in turn forced a third national lockdown.
The evidence was collected by an expert in infectious diseases in children and the clinical director for children’s services at Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust in London, Dr Hermione Lyall.
In a presentation to paediatricians she said of the 78 children with PIMS who ended up in intensive care – 47 per cent were of Afro-Caribbean origin.
She also stated that 28 per cent were Asian.
A separate study found that 60 per cent of 107 cases of PIMS treated up to January 13 had been made up of black African or Caribbean children.
Dr Liz Whittaker, the PIMS spokesperson for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said research is now underway to understand why this group is affected.
She added that genetics could be a factor but said the concern was that poverty was also a key element.
Dr Whittaker said: “We are concerned that it is a reflection of how this is a disease of poverty, that disproportionately affects those who cannot avoid exposure due to their occupation, multi-generational households and crowded housing.”
The figures from Dr Lyall also showed that 78 per cent of patients had no underlying health issues.
It stated that the average age of kids getting PIMS is 11, but that it could range anywhere between eight to 14.
Data also presented at the webinar showed that a small number of kids who had PIMS suffered with confusion, lethargy and disorientation.
It was highlighted that some children started to behave in a “strange way” and some had a stroke.
Out of 75 children, eight were found to have suffered heart problems.
Modelling by doctors predicts that cases will peak next Monday before they start to decline.
Dr Whitakker added that parents should not be alarmed by the surge in hospitalisations.
She said PIMS would not be a reason to keep schools from opening and added that it would not be a reason to close playgrounds.