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Mum's fears as Elliott, 3, ends up in Royal Stoke every time he catches Covid

Stoke on Trent Live logo Stoke on Trent Live 07/10/2022 Hayley Parker

A three-year-old boy has ended up needed hospital treatment four times after catching coronavirus. Little Elliott Degg was first admitted to the Royal Stoke a week after testing positive for Covid.

The tot has since been hospitalised three further times after picking up the bug. And he has also been left with asthma and a rare skin condition. His mum, Kerry Degg, 45, is now living in fear of him contracting Covid for a fifth time amid a winter spike in cases.

After his first diagnosis in October 2020, medics had to resuscitate Elliott at the top of the stairs in their family home in Newcastle-under-Lyme after he turned blue and experienced convulsions, 'ridiculous'[ temperature spikes and foaming at the mouth.

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Kerry said paramedics arrived at her home in protective suits 'looking like horror film characters' but one of them 'ripped his suit off' so he could get up the stairs to save her son.

“I shouted at him that I think we’ve got Covid but he said he didn’t care – it was all very dramatic at the time, them trying to help Elliott,” she said. Elliott is now asthmatic post-Covid and during his third hospital admission he started to show signs of dermographism, a condition also known as skin writing, where uncomfortable red rashes appear on the skin when a patient is touched.

The only child of police control room operator Kerry and her 49-year-old engineer husband Tim, Elliott was born a 'miracle baby' when she was 42 after years of the couple trying without success in their 30s. The family now shield as much as they can to protect both Elliott and Tim, who is also at risk after having two heart attacks in April 2017.

She said: “We’re dreading the positive and negative test result as it gives us this warning we’re going straight up to hospital with Elliott. I’m slightly less frightened as every hospital visit was less severe. We’re just in limbo with it all and hope he might get a vaccine soon.”

The NHS does not currently provide vaccines to children under the age of five but Kerry said every time Elliott has contracted the virus he has had a delayed adverse reaction a week later.

“He gets really, really ill one week after having Covid which is bizarre but it’s fine when he has it,” she said. “Then one week later when he tests negative, we know he’s going to go into hospital, so weird.

“He doesn’t get ill with Covid, he gets ill after Covid, so that’s our fear over winter with the numbers going up. We’re staying away from his grandparents who have Covid at the moment because of that panic.”

The family is prepared for any future post-Covid issues as they have oxygen and temperature monitors at home to keep an eye on Elliott when he falls ill. Elliott was always “perfectly healthy” according to Kerry until he first fell ill with Covid in September 2020.

“He was unconscious, blue and foaming at the mouth,” Kerry recalled. “The paramedics had to resuscitate him at the top of our stairs then he was admitted to hospital. Nothing can ever get as bad as that so we’ve always said we’re not going to let anything hold him back.”

Kerry added: “As long as it’s not hurting him we won’t let the dermographism or asthma hold him back because after that experience (on the stairs), it was just the worst.”

After his first diagnosis in October 2020, medics had to resuscitate Elliott Degg at the top of the stairs in their family home in Newcastle-under-Lyme after he turned blue © PA Real Life After his first diagnosis in October 2020, medics had to resuscitate Elliott Degg at the top of the stairs in their family home in Newcastle-under-Lyme after he turned blue

Each time Elliott has contracted Covid he has struggled to breathe and he now suffers from asthma. After his third trip to the hospital, medics first noticed signs of dermographism.

“The doctor noticed his face was marking up every time he put the oxygen mask on him,” said Kerry. “So they were asking me if he was allergic to the latex. They were panicking because he got lines all over his face where the mask was.”

She added: “Every time anybody touched him, he marked. It was quite pronounced. It wasn’t just minor; it was really every touch. It was you literally putting your hand on his chest and your handprint would be there after, he was that severe at the beginning whilst he was in hospital.”

A 2021 US study by researchers at the University of Florida, published in the British Medical Journal, suggested that dermographism may be an additional manifestation of a Covid infection. Elliott now shows marks on his skin after something as innocent as a cuddle.

His mum said: “You feel it as much as him. You haven’t done anything but you see your own handprints. So you pick him up underneath his arms from a bath, for instance, and your handprints are on him.”

She added: “To see your three-year-old little toddler and he’s got your hand prints on his body, you think you’ve sort of pressed too hard sometimes. At the beginning you didn’t dare touch him and if you just cuddled him, he’d have marks all over him, so we were panicking.”

Elliott himself, who best enjoys pretending to be his favourite action hero Spiderman, is not bothered about the markings on his skin.

“It doesn’t seem to bother him… the other day he was a little bit itchy,” said Kerry. “(But) he doesn’t really know, he doesn’t notice it himself. It’s more frightening for us. It almost looks worse for us if he gets a scratch or if he gets really, really upset, which is rare.”

She added: “If he cries his whole body gets covered in marks, it seems to accelerate it for some reason.”

After trying a series of medications, antihistamine cetirizine has helped relieve Elliott’s dermographism. “Whilst it’s not a cure, it improved his symptoms by 80%,” his mother said.

“If he didn’t have his medicine it would be pretty obvious. If we forget his medicine once in the morning, he’d roll around on the floor and have a big mark on his face.”

Despite the trials he has faced, Elliott’s parents say he is a “chilled child” and actually loves his time spent in the hospital. “We’ve tried not to make a big thing about it so he doesn’t really notice any difference,” she said.

“I think we would struggle if he was a crier. If he cried over everything, we would really struggle because you’ve got no way of knowing if it’s really bad, because it always looks bad.”

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