Dr Joanne Paul

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An increasing number of children are developing neurological complications after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

The revelation came from the head of the Paediatric Emergency Department at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), Dr Joanne Paul, at Wednesday’s Ministry of Health virtual media briefing.

This trend, she said, is in conjunction with Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

“We’re not only seeing MIS-C coming up but we have now the post-COVID brain inflammation or encephalitis,” she said.

“With COVID, it can have receptors that attack the brain and heart and the GI (gastrointestinal) and other places.”

Since the pandemic began, she said there were 342 children hospitalised, of which five are currently warded. Their ages are one month, two months, 2, 8, 12.

To date, there have been 12 children to die from COVD-19.

She indicated that there have been 76 children diagnosed with MIS-C to date. This, she said, is among the highest in the region.

She said no deaths were recorded as yet from the condition. According to Dr Paul, many children who developed the condition did so despite having asymptomatic COVID-19.

“The thing is that they have no symptoms and afterwards they present with MIS-C. So you really have to be watching out for the MIS-C signs and also signs of encephalitis,” she said.

Paul, however, noted that local data indicates that children who qualify for vaccination and have done so don’t develop any of these complications following their infection.

“So far, since August last year, since we started to have vaccinations for that age group (12-18), none, zero, none of those patients have developed MIS-C at all. And it’s a similar trend with regards to the post-COVID encephalitis,” she said.

She said there was only one child between 12 and 18 years old to develop MIS-C since August 2020. This person, she said, was unvaccinated.

She noted children are most likely to be hospitalised if they suffer from chronic medical conditions such as sickle cell disease, diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, thyroid issues and chronic thyroid issues.

What is MIS-C

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Its symptoms include stomach pain.

bloodshot eyes, diarrhoea, dizziness or light-headedness (signs of low blood pressure), skin rash, and vomiting.

What is Encephalitis

Encephalitis is inflammation of the active tissues of the brain caused by an infection or an autoimmune response. The inflammation causes the brain to swell, which can lead to headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, mental confusion and seizures.