New Orleans pediatricians now seeing rare illness in children believed to be linked to COVID-19 infection

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -At least three children in New York have died from an illness believed to be connected to COVID-19 infection. Now, New Orleans pediatricians are also seeing the syndrome.

Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, a pediatric cardiologist at Ochsner Hospital for Children, has treated three patients recently with Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome.

“Two of them have had positive COVID tests and one of them had a negative COVID test but a positive antibody test and that’s the trend that we are seeing around the country and around the world,” said Kleinmahon.

Doctors say the illness is similar to Kawasaki’s Disease or Toxic Shock Syndrome.

“Basically, what’s happening is the immune function of the body is in overdrive and that’s causing organs like the heart, the kidneys, the liver, to start to fail or be close to failure,” Kleinmahon said.

While some kids who develop the syndrome have active COVID-19 disease, others may have had a past infection so mild they didn’t even realize they had it.

“Because of that infection, it’s caused the immune system to have a hyper response which is affecting the cells and other organs of the body,” Kleinmahon said.

He says children of all ages are being impacted.

“All of the children we have treated here have had no underlying conditions in terms of their heart or their immune system, so, we’re not sure who is more prone to it and who is not and that’s why we’re working with other centers around the country and the world to gather data to try to parse that out and really see if there is a certain subset of the pediatric population that we should be paying close attention to,” Kleinmahon said.

Thomas Kimball a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, says there are two potential cases there.

“Over the weekend I became aware of two patients at Children’s who apparently have the Multi-organ Inflammatory Syndrome, both are covid negative at this time, although one of the patients, some of the covid tests are pending still, both were exposed to covid through parents,” Kimball said.

While both doctors we spoke with are concerned by what they’re seeing, they stress the syndrome is rare. And, in most cases, the prognosis is good.

“It’s painful to everybody, to pediatricians and the parents, because we thought the kids were protected from this and so it’s concerning, again I am reassured that it looks like it is very rare, I am also reassured that patients seem to largely recover,” said Kimball.

“We’ve treated three patients, fortunately they’ve all done very well, they’ve all had full recovery of their heart function as well as their kidney and liver function. So far at Ochsner Hospital for Children we’re able to give them the treatment they need and the support that they need, we also realize there are cases out there that kids are not doing very well,” said Kleinmahon.

Doctors say parents should look out for and seek medical attention if you notice symptoms like a high fever, rash, redness of the white part of the eyes, cracking of the lips and tongue, abdominal pain, not wanting to eat, vomiting, and respiratory problems.

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