Austin teen recovering from rare syndrome linked to COVID-19

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Red tape in the form of a giant “X” marked on the glass doors can be seen in one of few pictures Aaron Wine took inside his sons hospital room. 

The photo shows Tobin, 16, curled up in the bed surrounded by machines at Dell Children’s Medical Center. 

“They did a sonogram of this heart which showed his heart was enlarged. It was inflamed,” Wine explained. “And so that was like the big concern.”

Wine said they had been monitoring Tobin’s symptoms for a few days including a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and a bloodshot eye.

“The fever was quite high. It was 104… and so even with Tylenol that knocked it only down to like 102 at times, and in the next couple of days the fever just kept going,” Wine explained.

The family took him to the doctor and when he wasn’t getting any better they said they rushed Tobin to Dell Children’s in May. 

Tobin spent nine days in the hospital, most of the time in ICU. Wine said a rash gradually spread.

“He was starting to get a little rash on the hands and his lips were starting to rash up,” Wine explained. “The rash actually came a lot later than I was expecting.”

Wine said he was told by doctors that Tobin’s diagnosis was Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). The illness, linked to COVID-19, leads to inflammation of the heart and other organs. 

Symptoms include fever, rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloodshot eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also mirror Kawasaki Disease which medical experts at Dell Children’s treat. 

A spokesperson with Austin Public Health said they’ve been notified of two suspected cases, but they’re not considered confirmed cases. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed one case in the Houston area, and is looking into fewer than 10 suspected cases across the state. 

“Generally, doctors report suspected cases to local public health departments, which would help them determine if it meets case criteria,” said Lyndsey Rosales, Communications Specialist with DSHS. “Those local health departments also consult with DSHS.”

The CDC’s guidance for diagnosing a confirmed case includes a fever of at least 100.4 for at least 24 hours, evidence of inflammation, hospitalization, and concerns with at least two organs. ​Also, evidence of COVID-19 or antibodies.

Wine doesn’t know how Tobin could have been exposed to the virus. He was tested for COVID-19 and antibodies, but Wine said it was negative. The family is waiting on results from another round of testing.

“He’s been great with social distancing. He always wears a mask. He never leaves the house,” Wine said. “And we still don’t know how he even got it, because everyone around him tested negative for COVID and antibodies so far.”

Wine explained that his son has always been healthy with no underlying medical concerns except the minor allergies including grass and pollen. 

Tobin was prescribed steroids at the hospital and Wine said it immediately made a difference. 

“He’s in great spirits. He’s back to normal,” Wine said smiling “You know we’re going back to get checked out just to make sure the inflammation is completely gone.”

Wine said his advice to other parents includes keeping a close eye on symptoms because they are different everyday, “I would definitely ask questions.”

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