Coronavirus in kids: National, state registries established to track mysterious illness linked to COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Cases of a mysterious inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 are now being tracked by national and state registries as more cases continue to emerge in Illinois and around the nation.

Nolan Garcia is back home after spending eight days at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital after he was diagnosed with the illness.

"It's a long road to recovery for something like this because it was an inflammatory response, so it hit kind of every little marker on him," said Sarah Garcia, mother.

Advocate Health is treating two more children with the syndrome. University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital has three suspected cases. Doctors at all of Illinois' children's hospitals are working with the state to figure out how to properly identify the syndrome.

"From a public health standpoint, the more we learn about it the more we are able to treat and contain it," said Dr. Frank Belmonte, Advocate Health. "We are learning new things every day."

There is now a national and state registry that tracks cases. While the syndrome is not related to Kawasaki disease, some of the symptoms are similar which is why doctors want to ensure the COVID-related disease is diagnosed property.

"It's very rare," Belmonte said. "I don't want parents to think this is a common thing. We need to be alert if you see the symptoms."

The CDC offered guidance Monday, defining cases as presenting in individuals under the age of 21 who have fever, laboratory evidence of inflammation, and severe illness requiring hospitalization, involving multiple organ systems, a positive test for current or recent COVID-19 infection or COVID-19 exposure in the four weeks prior to onset of symptoms, and no alternative plausible diagnosis.

Symptoms include persistent fever, abdominal problems, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes, and swollen lymph nodes. Doctors believe the syndrome is a delayed reaction in kids who may have carried the virus weeks earlier, but showed no traditional COVID-19 symptoms.

While cases are rare, Sarah Garcia said other parents should get their children to the emergency room quickly if they show symptoms.

"I would say don't wait, don't question it," she said. "If your pediatrician questions it, go over him."

Doctors are confident of their ability to stay on top of cases, because there are so many quality children's hospitals in Illinois.
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