A MUM thought her seven-year-old daughter would die after developing a syndrome linked to Covid.
Debbie McGuire’s girl Sienna spent a week in hospital with Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS), a recently discovered illness in children that’s triggered by the coronavirus.
Sienna (middle) with a teddy given to her by the ambulance crew, along with sisters Madison, 15, and Lilla, 9Credit: MEN Media
PIMS is very rare and most children will not be seriously affected but in some circumstances it can be serious and even life-threatening.
It can affect children two to six weeks after they’ve been exposed to Covid-19, even if they did not have any symptoms at the time.
When doctors first warned of the illness in April, they said the symptoms were similar to Kawasaki disease.
Sienna’s family did not know she had ever contracted coronavirus as she had not displayed symptoms at all.
Debbie, from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, said: “We hadn’t even realised that she’d had coronavirus – she had no symptoms.
“There was an outbreak at her school before Christmas when seven children and a teacher tested positive, but Sienna never showed any symptoms.
“It was weeks later on January 8 when she started being sick and got a high temperature.
“Last Sunday she was burning up and she came into my bed.
“As we were watching TikToks together, the light from the phone made me realise her lips were bright red.
What are the symptoms of PIMS?
The main symptom of PIMS, according to Great Ormond Street Hospital, is:
- a high temperature that lasts for a few days.
Your child might also have other symptoms such as:
- A rash
- Tiredness and weakness
- Tummy pain or cramps
- Red and cracked lips
- Swollen hands and feet
- Peeling skin on your hands and feet
- Red eyes
- Muscle aches and pains
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Swollen neck glands
- Unexplained irritability
These symptoms are different to the coronavirus, which causes:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Fatigue, a headache, sore throat and loss of appetite are also common in children with Covid, according to the Zoe COVID Symptom Study app.
“I remembered reading about children with Kawasaki disease after Covid and knew that this was a sign. I asked Sienna to stick her tongue out and she had the bright red strawberry-looking tongue.
“As I was ringing 111, I noticed she also had a rash on both of her hands.”
The symptoms of PIMS include a high temperature, a rash, tiredness and weakness, red and cracked lips, tummy pains, and diarrhoea and vomitting.
Debbie took Sienna to Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby where doctors initially suspected a bacterial infection, not anything Covid-related.
She was put on a course of antibiotics through a drip but her temperature rose to 39.5C and she could barely stay awake.
A Covid test which she had the previous day came back negative.
The following day her condition deteriorated and doctors decided to transfer her to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Debbie said: “I was so scared of losing her at that point.
“I’d been trying not to cry so I didn’t worry Sienna, but it all came out as we drove to Sheffield.”
Sienna was in hospital for one week, coming home on January 15. On the day she arrived, her temperature rose to 39.5CCredit: MEN Media
Sienna had a rash on both her hands – a sign of PIMSCredit: MEN Media
By the time they arrived at Sheffield, the antibiotics had started to work and Sienna was looking better.
Debbie said: “The consultant explained to me that she suspected Sienna had something called Paediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome which is related to Covid-19 and causes inflammation around the body, and can cause tissue damage or organ failure.
“She told me that she’s seeing five or six kids a week with this and that they do recover.
“I cried – this was so good to hear.
“She told me that Sienna will have lots of tests over the next few days and to expect to be here for quite a while.
“She also said that I had done well in spotting this when I did, as lots of children don’t come until severely poorly.
“And if Grimsby hospital hadn’t ordered blood tests, they wouldn’t have spotted the inflammation markers which showed it wasn’t just a temperature.”
Sienna, who attends Holton le Clay Junior School, came home from hospital on Friday, January 15 and is recovering well.
She will have further check-ups to monitor any long-term effects of the condition or from having Covid.
While most children don’t become ill from coronavirus, they can suffer this rare complication weeks after.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health think around 80 children may have been seriously affected and admitted to an intensive care unit with PIMS, meaning there will be more who were not seen by doctors.
Almost all these children have since recovered. But doctors think two children may have died – they can’t be certain that there weren’t other reasons why the children died.
Debbie has urged parents to be alert to the symptoms for PIMS, even if they don’t believe their child has had coronavirus.
“I was very lucky to have known the signs and got her help so quickly,” she said.
“It’s especially difficult when most families don’t ever know if their children’s been infected with coronavirus.”