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11 Cases of Pediatric Inflammatory Condition Linked to Coronavirus in Louisiana

Louisiana now has 11 known cases of a serious inflammatory condition linked to coronavirus in children, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. The condition, previously known as pediatric multi-inflammatory syndrome and now called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), is so new that doctors don't yet know much about it or why it is triggered in some children.

Doctors at Children's Hospital in New Orleans have seen patients from all over the state and Mississippi.

"We've seen kids 2 months to 15 years old," said Dr. Nihal Godiwala, an LSU Health pediatric critical care pulmonologist who sees patients at Children's. "But presentations are similar with a constellation of symptoms including fever, rash and some form of abdominal symptoms."

Those symptoms match many common childhood illnesses. What sets this disease apart, said Godiwala, is the way it sets off the body's inflammatory response.

The syndrome causes inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Some children have gone into cardiac arrest and needed ventilators.

Parents should seek medical attention for their children if they notice any symptoms, experts said. Getting life-saving drugs and devices to children quickly is crucial with this disease. Like adults with coronavirus, patients can take a turn for the worse.

"We’re seeing kids decompensate quickly and require a lot of interventions," said Godiwala. "It can be as quick as hours or over the course of a couple days."

In New York, at least 102 children have been diagnosed with the syndrome and three have died.

In a small study published in The Lancet medical journal examining a cluster of eight children from London with the condition, one child, a 14-year-old boy, died. All of those children were previously fit and well.

Experts still consider the condition to be rare in children, and have theorized it may be a delayed immune response to coronavirus. It is unknown if adults can also develop a similar response.

The disease mirrors symptoms of Kawasaki disease, a rare but serious immune response to viral illness. MIS-C looks like Kawasaki, but the criteria to diagnose it is different.

"The hallmark is specific elevation in inflammatory markers," said Godiwala, referring to ways practitioners measure inflammation using blood tests. "Their lab markers are off the chart."

Louisiana health officials will begin posting public data on cases of the syndrome next week.

Original article by NOLA.com, 5/22/2020.

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