A 7-year-old girl from the Treasure Valley is in recovery following the state’s first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a recently defined disease associated with COVID-19.
This is Idaho’s first case of the new disease, according to St. Luke’s Children’s System Medical Director Dr. Kenny Bramwell. MIS-C was defined by scientists and doctors in the past few months after hundreds of doctors around the world began to see symptoms in children similar to that of Kawasaki disease or toxic-shock syndrome.
The Idaho child has been discharged and is now in recovery at her home, according to Bramwell, but the state will likely see more of these cases as the spread of COVID-19 continues.
“Continue to be vigilant,” he said in a press conference Tuesday morning.
The announcement comes as school districts throughout the state weigh strategies for returning to class in the fall. The Blaine County School District plans to mix in-person and at-home learning starting Sept. 8, alternating alphabetically to reduce the number of students in school buildings at any one time.
The St. Luke’s health system has had 11 pediatric patients with COVID-19, Bramwell said.
As of Aug. 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had identified 570 children nationwide with MIS-C, 10 of whom died from it. The first child in the U.S. with MIS-C was identified in early May in New York City and at least 93 of the 570 cases were in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
According to the CDC, 64 percent of kids who got sick ended up in an intensive-care unit, and part of the definition of the disease is that the patient requires hospitalization due to severe symptoms. The Idaho child was “profoundly” sick and showed symptoms of gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain or a swollen abdomen, Bramwell said.
Other symptoms of this disease include respiratory issues, rash or bloodshot eyes, swollen hands and feet, cracked lips, a swollen tongue that looks like a strawberry, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, severe flu-like symptoms with a high fever for over 24 hours, low blood pressure and a high heart rate. Those symptoms begin to develop two to four weeks after being infected with COVID-19, according to the CDC.
If a parent believes their child may have MIS-C, Bramwell said they should contact their primary care provider as symptoms may get worse quickly. Children with MIS-C need close observation by pediatric specialists in critical care, infectious disease, cardiology and rheumatology, he said.
Forty-one states have now reported cases of MIS-C, according to the CDC. Ninety-nine percent of those cases also tested positive for COVID-19. The average age of the disease in children is 8, and most cases have been found in children 1 to 14, with more than 70 percent reported in Hispanic and black children, according to the CDC.
Little information is known about this new disease associated with the novel virus, but Bramwell said it is likely that children with COVID-19 are most contagious when they are experiencing the most severe symptoms of that disease. However, he said there is no evidence to indicate that MIS-C itself is contagious—only that it is associated with positively infected COVID-19 patients.
It is also not known at this time if there are long-term effects of MIS-C, Bramwell said.
For more information on the new disease, visit cdc.gov/mis-c.