3 children with rare virus-linked syndrome in intensive care at Israeli hospital

Girl defined as serious but stable, other two kids in moderate condition; report comes ahead of Israel reopening early childhood education system

Medical staff members work at the coronavirus ward of the Kaplan Medical Center, in Rehovot, on September 22, 2020 (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Medical staff members work at the coronavirus ward of the Kaplan Medical Center, in Rehovot, on September 22, 2020 (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Three children are hospitalized in the intensive care unit of an Israeli hospital for treatment for a rare inflammatory syndrome that can cause damage to the heart, thought to be triggered by the coronavirus.

The highly rare, post-viral condition called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) can develop about a month after SARS-CoV-2 infection and causes multiple organs to become painfully inflamed.

The two girls, aged 9 and 10, and a 16-year-old boy were receiving treatment at the Kaplan Medical Center in the central city of Rehovot, Channel 13 reported on Thursday.

Dr. Eli Shapiro, director of pediatric intensive care at Kaplan Medical Center, told Channel 12 news that one girl was in serious condition but stable, and the other two children were in moderate condition.

Haredi children wear face masks as a measure to combat infection by the coronavirus, in Bnei Brak on September 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

“The children are receiving intensive treatment with drugs appropriate to the type of disease, in order to try to calm their immune systems,” Shapiro said.

The Health Ministry hasn’t published official figures for the number of children who have suffered from the syndrome.

“Recently there have been something like 30 cases,” Dr. Uri Bella, Kaplan’s director of the emergency department of pediatrics told Channel 13. “It is a syndrome in which the immune system awakens and begins to attack the body, affecting many systems. The children come with stomach aches, chest pains, and there is damage to the heart and liver.”

Over the past months, multiple countries have reported cases of children affected by an inflammatory disease with symptoms similar to those of a rare condition, Kawasaki’s disease. Scientists believe it may be linked to COVID-19.

Symptoms include a high fever, rashes, abdominal pain, conjunctivitis and a red or swollen tongue. The majority of children recover from the disease although the long-term effects are unknown.

The report came as Israel’s early child education system was set to return to operation on Sunday as the first stage of the exit from a second national lockdown.

Despite the planned opening of daycares and preschools, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein expressed concern about a potential outbreak there.

“We are very worried about a possible rise of infections in preschools,” he said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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