For parents: Dangerous childhood condition related to COVID-19 has reached SC
Parents need to be aware of a rare but potentially serious health condition in children that is related to COVID-19.
South Carolina's first two cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, known as MIS-C, were confirmed Sunday by state health officials. The announcement came one day after officials reported that a Midlands child under age 5 had died of COVID-19, the state's first coronavirus-related death of a child since the pandemic began in March.
One of the children stricken with MIS-C is from the Midlands, and the other is from the Pee Dee, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. Both are under age 10.
What is MIS-C?
Researchers have found MIS-C might develop in children and young adults up to 21 years of age between two and four weeks after they were infected with COVID-19.
In MIS-C, a child's immune system doesn't shut down after warding off COVID-19. Instead, it can create a dangerous inflammatory response in the heart and other organs.
"This particular post-viral response is one that I think parents have to be aware of," said Dr. Robin Lacroix, a pediatric infectious disease specialist who is medical director of Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Upstate.
The syndrome first showed up in London in late April. Doctors in New York started reporting cases a short time later. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged doctors around the nation in mid-May to start watching for the condition. Since then, nine cases have been confirmed in Georgia, with another seven in Virginia, according to published reports.
Researchers in Boston and New York state studied nearly 300 cases of MIS-C, according to two articles published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine. About 80% of those children wound up in intensive-care units, and six died.
"For the most part, these children recover completely." LaCroix said during a media briefing Monday. She said children with MIS-C are typically hospitalized from five to eight days.
What are the symptoms of MIS-C?
Lacroix said parents should consider getting medical attention for children who have recovered from an infection and then become ill again with the following symptoms:
► Persistent red eyes, red lips or red tongue
► Swelling of the hands and feet
► A rash
► Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting
► Severe fatigue and weakness
How can parents help protect their children from getting MIS-C?
Lacroix said the best means of prevention is taking steps to make sure that parents or other adults don't spread COVID-19 to children. Those steps include avoiding crowds, wearing masks and frequently washing hands, which she said is particularly important for children.
Parents being able to protect their children from acquiring COVID is the first line of defense, Lacroix said.
– Kirk Brown covers government and politics. Follow him on Twitter @KirkBrown_AIM