KOCHI: Not many children were affected when the first wave of Covid hit the state last year. However, the second wave saw more children getting infected. Now, with the third wave of the pandemic imminent, experts have advised parents to get vaccinated and urged the state to be prepared to handle worse health conditions in youngsters, especially those aged below 18.
Global-level studies reveal that Covid can affect children in two ways: either with symptoms such as fever and pneumonia, or as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a condition in which body parts such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or intestinal organs get inflamed. It affects kids after 3-6 weeks of infection. Cases of MIS-C have already been reported in Kerala. Doctors said failure to identify these cases early can prove fatal.
Doctors say in many cases, parents fail to conduct Covid tests of their children when they show symptoms. On Friday, a two-year-old girl was admitted with MIS-C symptoms to a private hospital in Kottayam. The parents were unaware that the child had Covid.
“We had to conduct an antibody test to confirm whether or not she was infected. After detailed questioning, the parents recalled that two weeks ago, everyone in the family had developed fever-like symptoms. However, it subsided in a couple of days, and hence, no one took it seriously,” said the doctor treating the child, adding that MIS-C, if identified early, is treatable. “We are now giving the child steroids and she is responding well to treatment. She is still in the ICU,” said the doctor.
MIS-C symptoms range from fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and rashes to bloodshot eyes and extreme tiredness. “Since schools are closed and kids are mostly at homes, they are likely to contract the infection from adults, especially parents who go out and interact with others. It is very important that parents get vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent the transmission of the virus within their family. Also, if their children show any Covid symptoms, including fever, diarrhoea, stomach pain or tiredness, they should be taken for a Covid test. It is important to know whether your kid has or had Covid, as far as MIS-C is concerned,” said a Kochi-based paediatric intensivist.
Though the heart is affected primarily in MIS-C, organs like skin, mucosa, liver and kidney are also in danger. In homes, if children are experiencing increased respiratory rate, breathing issues or extreme tiredness, a paediatrician should be consulted, say doctors.
“At homes, one precaution parents can take is to make sure the child is not dehydrated if any of the said symptoms is noticed. The state government should ensure that there are enough facilities to treat children if such situation arises. Paediatric ICU facilities in the state are constrained. Hence, the state should intervene and evaluate the situation early,” said Dr Monu Varghese, a pulmonologist based in Kochi.
What is MIS-C?
- Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is a condition in which organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or intestines become inflamed. It is widely observed in children after 3-6 weeks of Covid infection. If diagnosed early, it would prevent any complication and can be treated.
- Symptoms: Fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, bloodshot eyes, breathing trouble, fatigue.