Spotting the Signs: Researchers release pictures of symptom of rare, COVID-linked illness in children

(WSVN) - It has been almost a year since experts first identified a mysterious, COVID-linked illness in children. Now, researchers have released pictures of one key symptom. The Nightteam’s Karen Hensel has tonight’s special assignment report: Spotting the Signs.

It’s called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children — or MIS-C.

The illness can appear weeks after a child gets COVID.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, World Health Organization, May 2020: “It seems to be a very rare syndrome, but we need more information.”

Experts are learning more.

The CDC says there have been 2,060 reported MIS-C cases in the U.S., and a total of 30 children have died.

Doctors are now providing picture proof of one of the syndrome’s most common symptoms: rashes.

Dr. Marcos Mestre, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital: “In terms of a journal article, that’s the first time I had seen it kind of summarized in that manner.”

These pictures are from researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The team studied seven MIS-C patients and discovered all of them developed a rash on their lower body, and five out of seven had a rash on their inner thighs.

Some had rashes on their arms, legs and dime-sized circle lesions on their backs and chests.

Dr. Marcos Mestre is the chief medical officer at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Marcos Mestre: “Typically, they’re going to be these kind of red, flat type rashes that just kind of don’t have a clear shape around it. It kind of spreads out throughout the body.”

While there was not one defining rash, researchers hope their work will help other doctors diagnose future cases.

And for parents, rashes are just one sign of possible trouble.

Dr. Marcos Mestre: “The symptoms we always tell parents to watch for are fevers, sometimes abdominal pain, some redness of the lips, redness of the eyes.”

Karen Hensel: “And at that point, nobody had really heard of MIS-C.”

Melanie Somnitz, mother: “Correct, correct.”

It was last April when Melanie Somnitz’s son Ezra got sick.

The St. Augustine mother says her 6-year-old had a fever, bloodshot eyes and was throwing up.

Melanie Somnitz: “Both cheeks were very flush. He had the rash on his neck. He had a rash on his torso and on both of his arms.”

Despite MIS-C, Melanie says Ezra is doing well today.

Dr. Marcos Mestre: “Over the last month, month and a half, we had seen them pick up a little bit more. Not quite what it was in the summertime.”

Just how many MIS-C cases have been diagnosed here in South Florida since beginning of the pandemic? Nicklaus Children’s Hospital says they have seen 50 to 60 patients. At Jackson’s Holtz Children’s Hospital, they have treated nine children. Up in Broward, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital has treated 60 patients with another 20 at Broward Health’s Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Marcos Mestre: “Just to also ease the mind of families and parents, this is a very rare condition with COVID infection, but at the same time, we always want to make sure families are aware of it.”

These heartbroken parents in Tennessee also want families to be aware.

Priscilla Morse, mother: “She was everyone’s favorite. She was the light of my life.”

Priscilla and David Morse’s daughter Gigi is one of COVID’s youngest victims. The 6-year-old died last summer.

Priscilla Morse: “She did have a rash on her shoulder, which we found out later is a child sign of COVID. We didn’t know, so any parents who have kids who are lethargic, throwing up and have a rash, they need to go. That’s the last photo that I took of her.”

Gigi’s case is a reminder that although adults are most at risk from COVID, spotting the signs early on children is key.


Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia study (via Open Forum Infectious Diseases)

CDC/MIS-C information

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