Severe inflammatory cases in kids linked to COVID-19 now found in Michigan

Posted at 1:37 PM, May 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-17 18:52:31-04

(WXYZ) — 7 Action News is learning more about how COVID-19 is affecting kids.

The CDC has now released guidelines for the severe inflammatory syndrome seen in children after reports in recent weeks from New York, the UK and other countries around the world. These severe inflammatory cases have all been linked to COVID-19.

Cases are now showing up in Michigan. Dr. Bishara J Freij, M.D., the Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Beaumont, says parents need to be aware of the symptoms to look out for because the quicker a child receives treatment the better the chance of a full recovery.

"If we would have waited one more day, it could be a totally different... because it was bad for a few days," says Hannah Peck of Shelby Township.

Hannah’s 7-year-old son Levi was happy and healthy until two weeks ago when he came down with what she thought was the stomach flu.

"He had a fever and was throwing up," Hannah said.

Then three days later, he was still feverish and vomiting and his eyes turned red. She contacted his pediatrician and was instructed to take him to the emergency room. Levi was admitted to Beaumont Royal Oak's pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The next day, severe stomach pains began. Initially it was thought to be appendicitis. An ultrasound revealed severe inflammation.

"The wall of the small intestine was so swollen it almost obstructed him," says Dr. Bishara J Freij, M.D., the Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Beaumont.

In the days that followed the infection spread.

"He also developed pneumonia and he had some heart muscle dysfunction," Dr. Freij said.

Levi was hospitalized for eight days, and was on oxygen and various medications. The diagnosis: Pediatric Inflammatory Multi-System Syndrome.

Other kids have been hospitalized for similar issues, such as severe inflammation impacting the heart and other organs. At Royal Oak Beaumont, Dr. Freij says they've had four cases in the last ten days.

Of those four kids, three tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. All four tested positive for the COVID-19 antibodies.

While other viruses can trigger inflammation, the presence of COVID1-9 antibodies are the only common thread in these cases. These kids were tested for many common viruses.

"We look for 14 different viruses on these swabs other than COVID-19 now, and we are almost never finding anything else right now," Dr. Freij said.

Levi is now fully recovered and along with other pediatric patients is participating in a study.

"We just want to understand why these kids got slammed the way they did versus others who had nothing," Dr. Freij said.

The doctor adds that the red flags for parents to look out for are: persistent fever of 100 or more, stomach or intestinall issues and eye redness. He says parents should not wait, but should call their child's doctor to get checked out immediately if those symptoms should emerge.

"I want to emphasize that this is not common," Dr. Freij said. "This is not common, but it can be severe and progressive. And if you catch it early in the course you can reverse it quite successfully."

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