Czech hospitals deal with growing number of post-Covid syndrome in children

With a growing number of Czech children being diagnosed with Covid-19, hospitals in the Czech Republic are dealing with an increasing number of cases of PIMS-TS, or paediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, a rare condition that can occur in children several weeks after Covid-19.

Eleven-year-old Kryštof from Prague is among the children diagnosed with PIMS in recent days.

About three weeks after suffering a mild case of Covid, he started to run high fevers, and nothing could bring them down, his mother told Czech Radio.

The boy was eventually brought to Prague’s Motol hospital, where he was immediately treated for post-Covid syndrome and has already been released to home care.

Jan Lébl, head of the paediatric clinic in Prague’s Motol hospital, says the syndrome effects on average one child in 1,100.

“Lately, we have been taking in a child with PIMS-TS virtually on every shift. The problem is that it usually manifests itself three to four weeks from the moment of infection, so the biggest wave of Covid that took place about three or four weeks ago is only now showing up in the influx of these children.”

Motol hospital | Photo: Enrique Molina,  Radio Prague International

Apart from high fevers, the disease often involves rashes, dangerously low blood pressure and abdominal pain. In serious cases its symptoms are similar to those of a toxic shock or sepsis and can be life-threatening.

So far, no child has died of post-Covid syndrome in the Czech Republic, says Mr. Lébl, adding that early recognition of the symptoms is crucial:

“Unfortunately, we now have two girls in our clinic who have a quite severe course of the disease. In their case, we have to apply intensive treatment to keep the infection in check.”

The PIMS-TS syndrome first appeared in the Czech Republic in the autumn during the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. By May of this year, over 200 children had been diagnosed with the disease.

How many children have been affected by the current wave is not yet clear, since doctors started systematically collecting data only last week.

The good news is that compared to the previous waves, doctors are now better able to detect post-Covid symptoms, says Martin Gregora, head of the children's clinic at Strakonice Hospital.

“When we started to encounter these cases about a year ago, it was more difficult to diagnose. Today, we recognize it fairly quickly. The patient is always a bit unusual, showing marked signs of inflammation, with no clear source of the inflammation.”

According to experts, vaccinating children against Covid is an effective way to prevent the onset of PIMS-TS. While it may not prevent the disease itself, it does reduce the viral load among children. As a result, less children are likely to be affected by the dangerous post-Covid syndrome.