Montreal girl, 12, needed 'aggressive treatments' after falling ill to COVID-19-related syndrome

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MONTREAL – Montreal parents and doctors are warning of a rare illness in children who’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

Rebecca Marchand, 12, spent her spring break feeling ill with a high fever, body pains, and a mix of other symptoms including a severe rash.

“I remember before going to the hospital, my eyes started hurting when I would look on the sides. So I would really have to move my head, and [they were] like, ‘Oh no, you’re watching too much iPad and too much TV,” Marchand told CityNews.

Rebecca was negative for COVID-19 and doctors sent her home thinking it was a “normal virus.”

“Rebecca is a strong cookie. It didn’t show from her outsides until it was critical,” said Marchand’s mother, Stephanie Peillon.

She was rushed back to hospital when her condition deteriorated and she collapsed, sending her to the ICU for several days.

She ended up staying in the hospital for five weeks.

“I didn’t understand how it can go from bad to worse to critical in a short amount of time. I was basically in a panic,” said Peillon.

“We were told what the next 24 to 48 hours would be. They had to be very aggressive with the treatments.”

Rebecca is one of the dozens of children aged five to 15 in Montreal who came down with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MISC) where organs and body parts can become inflamed.

“It was a nightmare. Not fun at all. It was a bit traumatizing,” said Marchand.

Forty cases have been treated at the Montreal Children’s Hospital since the beginning of the second wave and 60 cases at Ste-Justine Hospital since the start of the pandemic. The illness is brought on after a COVID-19 infection.

“The patients they were seeing, it’s not that they had bad COVID from the start. They just had COVID, whether it’s asymptomatic or minimal symptoms. And then weeks later develop this profound inflammation,” said pediatric rheumatologist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital Dr. Rosie Scuccimarri.

The inflammation can be life-threatening if it affects the heart and other vital organs, but experts say it is still a rare illness.

“From the numbers we see in New York and France, it is about two per 100,000. It is a rare disease. Nonetheless, if your child tested positive, be on the lookout. You don’t have to be hypervigilant, but if your child should start having fever from two to eight weeks after testing positive, if they have a fever, monitor it. If you have gut feelings, come and be assessed, there’s no issue in being assessed,” said Dr. Scuccimarri.

“Whether you test positive or not for COVID you know your child,” said Peillon.

Stephanie encouraging parents to trust their instincts, as she did with her otherwise-young-and-active daughter, who’s now recovering at home.

“Doctors say it’s going to affect a minimal amount of kids but for me, one kid is one kid too much,” she said.