A nine-year-old Australian boy has been hospitalised with a rare inflammatory illness associated with COVID-19, after clinicians were urged to monitor for the condition.

At least three children have died after developing the disease across the globe.

The boy is in intensive care at Monash Hospital with PIMS-TS (paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2), The Age reports. 

Safer Care Victoria issued an alert on Thursday to paediatric and emergency staff to consider the condition in children who present with fever, abdominal pain, rash and tachycardia – when the heart beats at a faster rate than normal.

The alert confirmed cases had been reported in children in Victoria however the nine-year-old boy is the first patient to be reported in Australia.

“PIMS-TS has been described in children in areas with high incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Case incidence has been noted to increase in the months after COVID-19 peaks,” SCV said.

“There are likely to be further – albeit rare – cases of PIMS-TS in Australia in areas with higher SARS-CoV-2 transmission. 

“PIMS-TS occurs two to six weeks after infection with SARS-CoV-2.

“The median age is nine years and it is more common in boys, those of ethnicities other than Anglo-European, and obese children.”

According to data from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services on Friday night, 48 boys and 37 girls under the age of 10 currently have COVID-19 in the state. 

Source: DHHS

Paediatric infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Booy from the University of Sydney told The Age given the thousands of coronavirus cases in Victoria, “you do expect to eventually get a case” of PIMS-TS.

“There have been a lot of people looking very carefully for the possibility of this disease so it is very unlikely that there are many hidden cases because paediatricians have been searching very carefully for this very particular problem,” he said.

In the alert, SCV stated clinicians with a PIMS-TS patient should contact the on-call paediatric infectious diseases service at the Royal Children’s or Monash Children’s hospitals.

“Myocardial dysfunction requiring ICU admission occurs in at least half the patients,” SCV said.

“Coronary artery aneurysms occur in about 15 per cent.

“ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) has been needed in some cases and occasional deaths have been reported overseas.”

ECMO is when a patient’s blood is taken out of their body via a pipe or a cannula to a machine where the carbon dioxide is removed and oxygen added before then it is returned.

The machine replaces the function of the patient’s own heart and lungs.

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