SEOUL -- Two children hospitalized for showing pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome for the first time in South Korea are recovering well from their disease, with an 11-year-old boy already discharged after treatment. A four-year-old girl is still under treatment, but health officials are optimistic about her recovery.
Cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) have been reported in the U.S. and Europe. The inflammatory response shares common features with other pediatric inflammatory conditions, including Kawasaki disease. Symptoms include a high fever, a rash, very red eyes, abdominal pain and skin peeling on hands or feet.
In an epidemiological study of two suspected MIS-C cases in South Korea, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) found that the 11-year-old boy had stayed in the Philippines from January to early May. Antibody tests are underway to determine if he was infected with COVID-19.
"Both had clinical patterns of multi-system inflammatory syndrome, but clinical symptoms have improved a lot through immunoglobulin treatment," KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong told a regular press briefing on Wednesday.
The two children have tested negative for COVID-19 in the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method that amplifies specific DNA samples. Health officials found that they showed symptoms of Kawasaki disease such as fever, rash, bloodshot and abdominal pain.
"Clinical symptoms have improved a lot through immunoglobulin treatment commonly used in Kawasaki disease," said Kwak Jin, an official from South Korea's epidemic control center. He said that the four-year-old girl showed symptoms in mid-May.
In MIS-C cases, some children who experience the inflammatory disease are testing positive for the novel coronavirus, while others are testing negative for the virus but positive for coronavirus antibodies, suggesting a possible post-infectious inflammatory response even weeks after exposure to the virus or being sick.
Normally, children experience mild to moderate symptoms or show no symptoms at all. Children with an underlying health condition or an immunodeficiency are generally at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. But so far, there is little information about how or why the virus may trigger MIS-C in a small number of children who are seemingly healthy. The gravest risk is heart failure.
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