News

New post-Covid disease seen in children

  • Affects children 2-6 weeks after recovery

  • More common among 8 to 15-year-olds

By Pamodi Waravita

 

A new disease which affects children who recover from Covid-19, known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome In Children Temporally Associated With Covid-19 (MIS-C), is displaying signs of growing in Sri Lanka, with six children currently undergoing treatment at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH).

Speaking to The Morning, LRH Consultant Paediatric Intensivist Dr. Nalin Kithulwatta said that there have been 15 recorded cases of the disease in the country since last year and that it is identified in a child two to six weeks after they recover from Covid-19.

“Currently there are six children being treated at the LRH for this disease, so we can definitely see an increase these days. When I spoke to a paediatrician two weeks ago from Welimada, they said that a case had been identified and transferred to Badulla. Since the symptoms of the disease are similar to other common diseases in children, this may be going undetected which has led us to believe there are more cases than what is currently being reported,” said Dr. Kithulwatta.

He further said that although MIS-C can affect anyone between the ages of one and 20, it is more commonly observed in children between the ages of eight and 15. The symptoms that parents should more carefully watch out for are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, conjunctivitis, and skin rash.

“When you say ‘multisystems’, it means that this disease affects many systems in the body, including the heart, kidneys, liver, skin, and eyes. The most serious case is when it affects the heart which could cause the blood pressure to reduce, leading to even death. While there have been recorded deaths in other countries, Sri Lanka has not seen any deaths so far although cases could have possibly gone undetected,” Dr. Kithulwatta further said.

He also said that early detection of the disease is the best path to treatment. However, he added that this is not easy as the PCR-test, the rapid antigen test, or the antibody test used to identify Covid-19 may test negative, which could lead to conviction that the child is not infected with MIS-C.

“The 15 cases we identified so far, all of them tested positive for Covid as well. A higher percentage of children are also asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, so detection of the subsequent MIS-C disease is difficult. Coming early to the hospital is the most important thing. These days because of Covid-19, in any disease, parents are scared to come to the hospital but we advise them that if their children are showing these symptoms to come as soon as possible,” cautioned Dr. Kithulwatta.

The Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians website notes that the “exact mechanism of disease pathophysiology is not well understood, but is suggested to result from a dysregulated immune response leading to a massive cytokine storm-like Kawasaki disease or Macrophage Activation Syndrome”

New post-Covid disease seen in children