Karnataka Boy Develops ANEC After Recovering From COVID-19

We’re learning more and more about COVID-19 every day. One thing that we’re discovering as the pandemic continues is the complications that may arise after recovery. Chronic fatigue syndrome, brain fog, POTS, and other ailments are impacting people who have already had the respiratory virus. Now, a 13-year-old boy from Karnataka, India has experienced a new complication from COVID-19: acute necrotizing encephalopathy of childhood (ANEC).

About ANEC

Acute necrotizing encephalopathy of childhood is a rare disease that is characterized by brain damage, high fever, and either gastrointestinal or respiratory infection. It is almost completely exclusive to children and infants of East Asian descent. In addition, it tends to impact those following a viral infection, such as COVID-19 or influenza virus, although other environmental and genetic factors play a role as well.

Symptoms of this rare condition consist of seizures, disturbances of consciousness, vomiting, liver disorder, coma, fever, and respiratory/gastrointestinal infection. In most cases, these symptoms progress to rapid neurologic decline and death. Less than 10% of complete recovery is expected in ANEC patients. Unfortunately, there is no standard of care; treatment is symptomatic.

Patient Story

For the past eleven days (as of June 30th), the boy has been hospitalized in Karnataka. He was diagnosed with ANEC upon arriving at the hospital, making him the second case in the country. He is the first case in his state.

Currently, healthcare professionals are unable to tell exactly what the boy’s condition is. The director of the SS Institute of Medical Sciences, NK Kalappanavar, found that his brain was inactive after an examination, leading Kalappanavar to place him on a ventilator for the following three days. Fortunately, he has shown signs of improvement and been taken off the ventilator.

Doctors plan to continue treating the boy for at least a week; he needs to recover somewhat before they can even examine the damage done to his brain. You can read more about his story here.

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