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Cleveland doctors working to diagnose, treat new childhood illness that appears to be linked to COVID-19

UH's Dr. Amy Edwards is spearheading the group which has doctors from 10 specialties working together to recognize and treat Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

CLEVELAND — Doctors at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital are working to diagnose and treat a new childhood illness that appears to be linked to COVID-19.

Dr. Amy Edwards is spearheading the group which has doctors from 10 different specialties -- including infectious disease, cardiology, rheumatology, immunology, and neurology -- working together to recognize and treat Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

"I got a group together that included a specialist from every specialty that’s relevant. Each specialist was tasked with looking at literature and reaching out to other doctors across the country. We put together an algorithm on how do we diagnose and how do we treat? We put together the best evidence based practice guidelines we could to diagnose and treat appropriately," said Dr. Amy Edwards, Pediatric Infection Control, UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. 

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children is rare.

It causes different body parts to become inflamed.

The cause is not yet clear, but Dr. Edwards says there appears to be a link to COVID-19.

"The first cases came out of London and Italy and then New York and Northeast Ohio. In April, we had a case and a couple suspected cases," said Dr. Edwards.

While UH Rainbow has treated one case, it's investigating four other potential cases.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome is similar to another childhood illness called Kawasaki disease.

"The main thing we're noticing is consistency with how these kids are presenting. These kids all present with the same symptoms which is fascinating. We see high fevers and some sort of GI symptom, like vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea or stomach pain," said Dr. Edwards. "What has become apparent is that if kids get treatment sooner, they tend to do better."

Most of the children who come down with this illness have COVID-19 antibodies.

Dr. Edwards also says in recent weeks, the hospital has seen an increase in children testing positive for COVID-19.

"There is a clear and steady increase that we're keeping an eye on. It's not dramatic and it's not unexpected now that things are opening up," said Dr. Edwards.

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