COVID-19 can affect almost any organ in the body, local doctor says

Many of you are aware of the most common COVID-19 symptoms, like shortness of breath, a cough and fever, but we are learning about some really dangerous symptoms now caused by the virus.

“This virus can affect almost any organ in the body,” said Allegheny Health Network physician Dr. Marc Itskowitz.

Have questions about the spread of the coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.

Frightening symptoms have now been linked to the coronavirus.

Channel 11’s Jillian Hartmann spoke with doctors at both UPMC and Allegheny Health Network about reported COVID-19 patients experiencing blood clots, inflammation of the heart or multi-organ failure.

"And those people require hospitalization,” said Dr. Donald Yealy of UPMC.

Both doctors said AHN and UPMC have treated a few patients with these high-risk complications, but they're very rare.

“The average patient who gets this virus will not suffer these severe complications,” Itskowitz said.

A majority of patients experience respiratory symptoms, but with any infection comes possible complications, especially for those who are older with underlying health conditions.

“It’s unclear if it’s the virus itself or an extraverted immune response that is causing these complications, but fortunately it’s very rare,” Itskowitz said.

New reports are also showing complications with children's immune systems.

“More recently there are reports of cases of children who are experiencing an autoimmune condition that is not common and that attacks the blood vessels, and that requires specialty care,” Itskowitz said.

However, both doctors tell me most children are experiencing mild or no symptoms at all.

At this time, doctors are continuing to learn more about the virus, coming up with the best treatments and carefully looking for signs of severe symptoms in patients.

“Only a tiny percentage of people go on to have a difficult experience with COVID-19,” Yealy said.

Both doctors tell me if you or someone you know is experiencing severe COVID-19-related symptoms to contact your primary care doctor right away.