Pediatricians looking into cause of inflammatory disease making kids sick


The mysterious illness is showing up across the country and doctors think it may be a response to COVID-19

AKRON, Ohio (WKBN) – The number of cases of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome sickening children across the country is continuing to grow.

Right now, the mysterious illness is being linked to COVID-19. Experts are actively investigating its cause.

“What we speculate — and I want to emphasize speculate — being infected by the virus itself doesn’t do much to the kids, but it does trigger an immune response that many, many weeks later, causes the body’s immune system to attack its own organs,” said Dr. Ira Taub, a pediatric cardiologist at Akron Children’s.

Taub is one of many doctors on a multi-disciplinary clinical team looking into pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome in kids and teens.

“One of the advantages we bring as a children’s hospital is that we’re not thinking in isolation about one organ system at a time. We’re really having a conversation about the whole patient,” he said.

Experts note this inflammatory syndrome has features that overlap with Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. Symptoms include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling around the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Red eyes
  • Joint pain

It could show up days to weeks after acute COVID-19 illness.

The clinical team at Akron Children’s relies on its infectious disease service to look into diseases that could cause this and come up with a treatment plan.

“PMIS isn’t the only thing that can do this to a child,” Taub said.

Cases have been reported in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but not in the Youngstown area.

Doctors stress if your kids have these symptoms, call your health care provider and get evaluated in a medical facility associated with a children’s hospital.

“What we don’t want is people flocking to Urgent Cares or just kind of Googling symptoms and then letting it rest,” Taub said. “We want them to be in a place where, really, we can all bring our minds to this problem.”

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