Officials: 2 children diagnosed with rare illness possibly connected to COVID-19 infection

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SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Two children at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Southwest Miami-Dade have been diagnosed and are undergoing treatment for a rare illness that, officials say, may be connected to COVID-19 infection.

A representative for the hospital confirmed the children’s illnesses on Tuesday.

“We’ve had two patients so far, and both have responded very well in terms of the treatment,” Dr. Marcos Mestre said. “This is not common, but it is something that you should be aware of, so if you do see that your child has any symptoms that relates to swelling of the lymph node, redness of the eyes, abdominal pain, fever, we think that those patients should be evaluated immediately.”

On Monday, Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami confirmed two children were in ICU with the unknown ailment.

Officials said both those children are showing signs of improvement.

The illness, called Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome, is described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “swelling across multiple body systems, which can lead to major organ failure.”

“Typically, these patients have had some exposure to COVID, usually three to four weeks prior to the symptoms,” Mestre said.

Not much is known about why the children are getting sick, but experts said it appears connected to coronavirus, even if the children are asymptomatic.

“It’s a rare disease,” Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist at Florida International University, said. “It’s an immunologic reaction that some children manifest after they’re exposed to certain viruses. Sometimes, children end up needing to be resuscitated and can even get a heart attack.”

Experts also said the syndrome can look different case by case.

The symptoms of the disease are described as follows:

  • Persistent fever
  • Rash
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the hands and feet

7News has also confirmed cases of the rare illness at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

“We’ve treated a couple of patients at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital,” Dr. Ron Ford said. “We believe two have had this. I can’t go into specifics, but they’ve all done very well. They often had kidney problems, heart problems, sometimes liver problems, often lung problems, and in many cases, became critically ill.”

A 9-year-old boy in New York was taken to the hospital with severe abdominal pain, and Juliet Daly, a 12-year-old girl in Louisiana, suffered a heart attack.

“It kind of felt like I couldn’t really do anything because I was in a lot of pain,” Juliet said.

Doctors said parents should pay most attention if their child has a fever. If the fever does not go away, that’s when the child needs to be taken to the hospital.

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