A scary new condition affecting children PIMS-TS
As paediatricians we felt thankful that the vast majority of children seemed to be unaffected or mildly affected if they caught Covid-19. We had a fairly quiet few weeks on the paediatric ward while our colleagues who looked after adult patients were the opposite and a number of our consultant colleagues and a large number of our junior doctors were redeployed to support adult patients, particularly in intensive care.
Unfortunately over the last few weeks things are changing. We have been seeing a number of very unwell children with a new condition which seems to be related to having been exposed to Covid-19. This new condition is called Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with SARS Covid-19 (PIMS-TS for short).
All the children with PIMS-TS have fever but they often have tummy pains, vomiting and diarrhoea and others have rashes, red eyes, red tongue or red cracked lips and redness and swelling of their hands and feet. They are usually also often quite irritable or lethargic. In a number of cases their heart function deteriorates or they develop aneurysms (swellings of the vessels), that supply blood to their hearts, which are at risk of rupture. Most children with PIMS-TS have required intensive care.
The recognition and responsiveness of this new condition has been phenomenal with doctors from all over the country working together to produce treatment guidelines on how to best manage these patients in conjunction with international colleagues. As the numbers of adult patients in intensive care continue to decrease our paediatric doctors have returned again straight back into the deep end so we can ensure we have both the numbers and experience to manage these often critically unwell children and provide then with the highest quality of care.
If your child is unwell with high fevers please contact your GP or take them to A&E for review if you feel they are very unwell; particularly if they have any of the following symptoms:
Tummy pains or other gut symptoms such as diarrhoea or vomiting
Red or swollen eyes, lips, tongue hands or feet
Rashes (take them straight to A&E if the rash does not fade with pressure ‘the glass test’)
They are very irritable or lethargic
Fever for more than 5 days
These can all be signs of PIMS-TS and early treatment to prevent complications is essential.
PIMS-TS is still relatively rare but children are still getting unwell with other serious conditions such as sepsis and meningitis so please if you are worried about your child get them seen. Further advice about when and how to seek help can be found here: https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-04/covid19_advice_for_parents_when_child_unwell_or_injured_poster.pdf
GP’s and A&E’s are open, safe and ready to see your children.