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Evelina London experts highlight symptoms of rare COVID-19 infection

Posted on Wednesday 23rd February 2022
A little girl who has had treatment for a rare condition linked to COVID-19

Evelyn, 5, who has been treated for PIMS-TS at Evelina London.

Experts at Evelina London are raising awareness of the rare inflammatory condition in children and young people linked to COVID-19.

Dr Jenny Handforth, consultant in paediatric infectious diseases, said: “While children and young people typically get mild symptoms with COVID-19, those who get PIMS-TS usually require hospital treatment as it is a serious condition. The patients we’ve cared for with PIMS-TS have responded very well to hospital treatment, and we continue to monitor them after discharge with regular check-ups.

“So while this illness is rare, it’s something we need families to be aware of so they know what to look out for and when to contact a health professional if they are worried about their child.”

Evelyn’s story

Five-year-old Evelyn was transferred to Evelina London with Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS-TS), after her symptoms became more serious.

Mum, Eugenia, 42, from Surrey said: “Evelyn caught COVID-19 towards the end of September, but luckily she wasn’t too ill, she just had a temperature overnight. It wasn’t until several weeks later when she developed new symptoms that got worse over four or five days that I thought this might be quite serious.”

“My husband took her to our local A&E thinking she might have meningitis as she was complaining of sore tummy, a sensitive head and eyes, and she had a very high temperature that wasn’t coming down. Over the following days she began vomiting and had diarrhoea and was feeling itchy with a rash on her hands and feet. We later noticed she had bloodshot eyes too. She was taken by the South Thames Retrieval Service to Evelina London and diagnosed with PIMS-TS”.

Evelyn was cared for on the intensive care unit for three days before being discharged back home to finish recovering.

Eugenia continued: “It was really scary to see how unwell she had become so quickly and not knowing the reason why was so scary. When we got the diagnosis of PIMS it was a relief but it bought with it its own worries and fears due to the fact that it can potentially be a very serious condition.

“We were blown away by the care that Evelyn received at Evelina London. From all of the staff in intensive care, the play team, teachers from Evelina London School, all of the support we received was incredible. Thankfully Evelyn continued to make a full recovery, and after her follow-up appointment with the hospital, she was able to make a gradual return to school”.

As world-leaders in medical research, Evelina London was among the first in the world to report PIMS-TS as a new condition in April 2020, helping other countries to also successfully treat it.

Since the condition was discovered, Evelina London has treated almost 400 patients from across London and south east England.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms can be different to COVID-19 as the condition is a delayed reaction to the body trying to overcome the virus. Many children and young people who experience PIMS-TS may not have previously been unwell or had COVID-19 symptoms.

Symptoms of PIMS-TS can include:

  • A prolonged fever (higher than 38C)
  • Tummy ache
  • Diarrhoea and / or vomiting
  • Widespread red rash
  • Red bloodshot eyes, strawberry red tongue, or red cracked lips
  • Swelling of fingers and toes
  • Not feeling or acting like themselves.

If your child has any of the following symptoms, call your GP or NHS 111 for advice. If your child develops chest pain, please call 999 immediately.