3 more cases found of COVID-19 inflammatory disease in children, Alberta Health says

Health officials are investigating three more probable cases of an inflammatory syndrome in children related to COVID-19.

The province's first case of MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children) was confirmed in the Calgary zone earlier this month.

Alberta Health says two of the latest cases under investigation are in Calgary and the other is in Edmonton.

All of the patients were hospitalized and have since been released.

MIS-C, which appears in children a few weeks after they've had COVID-19, is caused by an immune response to that infection, which then triggers inflammation of organs like the heart.

"If the child is really ill on arrival, they spend a day or two on arrival in the intensive care unit to monitor the heart function and make sure blood pressure is stable.… The child is overall kept safe and we in rheumatology are brought in to look at next steps," said Dr. Susanne Benseler, a pediatric rheumatologist and part of a team treating kids with the illness at Alberta Children's Hospital.

Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute/University of Calgary

She says Alberta is well prepared since a lot of information was shared early on.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, says the syndrome is similar to an inflammatory disease known as Kawasaki disease, and responds to treatments such as steroids.

MIS-C involves inflammation of multiple organs, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and nervous system. Fever is a key feature, and other symptoms can include rash, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Alberta Health says that, in addition to conducting an investigation, the department has alerted all doctors by making MIS-C a reportable disease. Officials are working with other provinces and the federal government to align their approaches to the syndrome.

"If you look at the overall odds of this infection and of this complication, it's still overall quite low. But I guess it kind of highlights the need to take sensible precautions where you can," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta.