Local health experts warn of new illness affecting children

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Local health experts are warning parents of a new illness that is affecting children across the country.

At Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Cathy Wilson is a mom of two daughters.

She’s always mindful about keeping them healthy, but a new mysterious coronavirus disease affecting children has given her something else to be concerned about.

“Because my younger daughter…something like that could be more serious for her because she has other issues that could exacerbate,” Wilson said.

This new illness is called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome. It’s been reported in 14 states.

Dr. Nick Hysmith, an infectious disease physician at Le Bonheur, says it’s similar to another illness.

“It’s sort of a systemic inflammation sort of speak. Your immune system becomes very excited, and you become really inflamed all over,” Hysmith said. “We see this not infrequently here at Le Bonheur and in a disease called Kawasaki.”

Kawasaki is a rare inflammatory condition which tends to hit one in 10,000 American children under five, but this new COVID related illness is different.

“These kids seem to be a little bit sicker,” Hysmith said. “There’s more of a shock type of experience where you have issues with your blood pressure, issues with your heart function and issues with your kidney function.”

So how worried should parents be?

“As of right now, I think parents should be aware of it. I don’t think they should be overly alarmed at this point,” Hysmith said.

If there are additional COVID cases, Hysmith says Le Bonheur is ready with screening stations, staff and beds to care for patients.

“From the very beginning, we’ve been prepared to take any type of surge in pediatric patients and we’ve also been prepared to take in adult patients, if the need were to arise that our sister facilities had issues on their side with bed numbers,” Hysmith said.

That’s comforting news for parents such as Cathy Wilson.

“I trust the experts here to tell me what I need to know,” Wilson said.

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