COVID-19 complications in children

Eye on KELOLAND

Not all, but most children have minor symptoms when they catch COVID-19. Many are even asymptomatic. But within a month after mild or no symptoms at all, children can develop a serious illness called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome. While rare, the disease was first reported in South Dakota in a child in June. KELOLAND News has learned that approximately 15 children have ended up in Sioux Falls hospitals with the frightening illness, most were treated in intensive care

Two-year-old Henry Fruechte is back on his northeast South Dakota farm and back on his bike.

But last month, this was Henry in Avera McKennan’s Pediatric ICU unit. Henry is typically the picture of health, but he got sick fast.

Two-year-old Henry Furechte was hospitalize with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome four weeks after being exposed to COVID-19 in October

“(He was) Super uncomfortable—really didn’t want to be touched,” Henry’s Dad, Tyler Furechte said.

Henry’s parents thought it may have been and appendicitis or meningitis. They took him to the doctor four times in one week. Their last trip was to the Brookings Emergency Room.

Henry was then sent by ambulance to Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls where he was diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

“Henry they said was the fourth case that they had at the hospital,” Tyler Furechte said.

“It doesn’t just attack kids that have bad immune systems. Henry’s never been sick. It’s a blessing for us we took him in a lot because we just knew something was wrong, Alissa Furechte said.

“This is a completely new syndrome. We are still learning about it. The body just goes haywire, Avera Pediatric Intensivist Dr. Kingshuck Dasgrupta said.

“The body gets itself prepared to fight this viral infection and in doing that it gets over-prepared and as it fights that virus, in a way it attacks itself, Sanford Pediatric Intensivist Dr. Jody Huber said.

In Henry’s case, his parents suffered mild-cold like symptoms from COVID-19 in mid-October.

“Our kids didn’t get sick at all. I mean at all. So we thought nothing of it,” Alissa Furechte said.

But one month later, Henry developed his severe symptoms.

“The little ones that do get sick, they get very sick. And we just don’t know, who is that going to be” Dr. Dasgrupta said.

Avera McKennan, as well as Sanford Children’s Hospital, have seen their share of cases. It typically starts with a fever.

“And then you can see a lot of abdominal pain, belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea. Some children can have rashes—rashes on their chest and belly. Usually, they’re pretty tired,” Dr. Huber said.

Most children, like Henry, recover quickly with IV treatments and steroids. However, there can be complications. According to the CDC, out of the nearly 1,300 children who’ve had the syndrome nationwide, 23 have died.

“The heart seems to be giving us the most trouble. There’s inflammation in the heart and most of our kids are needing to get transferred to the ICU and they’re having difficulties managing their blood pressure, so some of them are needing to be on blood pressure medications and medications to help the heart. That’s been the biggest challenge,” Dr. Dasgrupta said.

“We will start children on aspirin too and that’s just to help prevent blood clots. With the body overreacting to this viral infection, there is a small risk for clots,” Dr. Huber said.,

The syndrome also affects more minority children, mostly Hispanic and Black.

“We do worry about it affecting the Native American population. However, we have not seen that yet,” Dr. Huber said.

In Henry’s case, his doctors will be following up with him to make sure there are no long-term health issues.

Kennecke: Are you worried about any long-term effects?
Dr. Dasgrupta: That’s a great question. We don’t know yet. We have to see how these kids look, months maybe years down the line.

Alissa Furechte: As each day goes on, he kept getting better and better and I would say this week again, he’s running like normal. He’s got his strength back and everything.
Tyler Furechte: He’s got his sense of human back.

Henry’s parents never imagined one of their children would get sick like this, which is why they wanted to share his story.

“We really need to talk about out more, because the earlier you catch it, the less chance you have of having any long-term effects from it. I would have never thought that our healthy, two-and-a-half-year-old would be one that got a rare disease and is part of a learning experiment for the world. But we do want to spread awareness about it,” Henry’s mother, Alissa Furechte said.

While the South Dakota Department of Health tells us only one case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children has been reported to the state, Sanford and Avera told us they have had at least a half dozen cases each. We also asked Monument Health in Rapid City if they had any cases in children and were told it does not disclose that information.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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