Understanding MIS-C and its potential effect on children


Palmetto State had its first two cases of the potentially deadly COVID-19 related syndrome this week

BEAUFORT, SC (WSAV) – For the first time, two children in South Carolina are now battling a potentially deadly syndrome that is related to the Coronavirus.

According to DHEC the two youngsters, both under 10, are suffering from MIS-C.

One of the cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome for Children – or MIS-C – is in the Midlands. The other in the Pee Dee area.

They are two of about 300 cases in the nation. At least five of those children died.

The first reports of this syndrome came from the United Kingdom in late April. Cases in the United States were first reported in New York City in early May.

In Beaufort County, no cases have come up yet, but doctors at Beaufort Memorial Hospital have been talking about MIS-C and the “viral trigger” that is COVID-19 in kids for months.

“It was just painful, the only way I could describe it was that it felt like almost electricity or fire coursing through my veins,” said Jack McMorrow, a teen in another state who recovered from MIS-C

“I couldn’t really do anything because I was in a lot of pain,” explained Juliet Daly, another MIS-C patient.

Pediatricians at Beaufort Memorial Hospital thought we’d see patients like these sooner rather than later

“With the rising numbers of cases right now (in South Carolina) it increases the likelihood we are going to see it and possibly more.”

“This does appear to be a post-infectious phenomenon those who having this may have had a mild illness with COVID-19 itself but then a few weeks after they have this exposure,” said Dr. Kurt Ellenberger, MD, Medical Director of Pediatric Hospital at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Kurt Ellenberger says an exposure that starts with a fever and skin rashes, then gets much more dangerous.

“Any system can be affected the most serious is the cardiovascular system,” said Ellenberger. “This includes shock which ends up making the kids end up in ICU care. They can have abnormalities in their EKG. They can have elevated heart enzymes similar to what adults track for heart attacks. So obviously there’s some heart damage that can occur with this.”

“Neurological symptoms so seizures, stroke. Other deficits along those lines. renal failure liver failure, diarrhea, bleeding from the GI tract can be part of it.”

Doctors call the syndrome similar to Kawasaki’s disease, which is also rare. Both have potentially life-altering when they do recover, heart, liver, or kidney damage all possible.

CDC outlines on MIS-C:

80% of patients end up in the hospital in intensive care

“Most kids who get COVID-19 are going to get through it fine,” says Dr. Ellenberger. “Most are asymptomatic or lightly symptomatic and only a small percentage are going to have this elevated response. But its definitely something especially as kids are getting more exposure going to school that they should be aware of.”

“We continue to see more and more young people, especially those under 20, contracting and spreading COVID-19, and we know MIS-C is a threat to our youngest South Carolinians,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “MIS-C is a serious health complication linked to COVID-19 and is all the more reason why we must stop the spread of this virus. Anyone and everyone is susceptible to COVID-19 as well as additional health risks associated with it, which is why all of us must stop the virus by wearing a mask and stay six feet away from others. These simple actions are how we protect ourselves and others, including our children.”

“With the closure of schools and kids being at home they just weren’t being exposed,” says Dr. Ellenberger. “So now that we have had relaxation and more people are going out and about, not protecting themselves as they should. It just brings the virus to everybody else.”

Children with immune disorders or auto-immune disease or defects will be higher at risk. It also appears the African-American or Hispanic children may be in a higher risk category. But any child infected with COVID-19 previously could be worth watching for parents.

“Kids get fever a lot so not every fever is COVID-19 or MIS-C. Parents know their children. If they have a fever but otherwise acting normal then probably not sever COVID-19 or leading up to MIS-C. But if the kid is not responding to fever control, acting sick or not as they usually would, they have an unusual rash, blood in the stool, persistent vomiting. Any of those things deserve to get checked out .”

DHEC recommends parents and caregivers learn and watch for the signs for MIS-C in their children. Emergency warning signs of MIS-C include trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure that does not go away, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face, and severe abdominal pain

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