Idaho reports 1st case of inflammatory pediatric syndrome

Thursday, August 20, 2020

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ An Idaho hospital on Tuesday reported the state's first case of a pediatric inflammatory illness associated with the new coronavirus.

A 7-year-old child with no known previous health conditions was diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, a potentially serious disease sometimes called MIS-C, said St. Luke's Regional Health System spokeswoman Anita Kissee.

The child was treated in the pediatric intensive care unit but released on Sunday, Kissee said.

The illness is newly recognized and is believed to be a delayed complication of coronavirus infection, often causing a fever, evidence of inflammation and severe illness involving more than two organs.

Symptoms can vary, but sometimes resemble toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, another rare illness that can cause fever, inflammation of the blood vessels, lymph nodes and mucous membranes in kids.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children can cause coronary arteries and other blood vessels to enlarge or form aneurisms, Kissee said in a social media post, emphasizing that it is a very rare complication of COVID-19.

``Some MIS-C patients also have signs of impaired cardiac function, gastrointestinal symptoms, kidney damage or neurologic symptoms,'' Kissee said.

Dr. Kenny Bramwell, the system medical director for St. Luke's Children's Hospital, said the girl was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit from another hospital last week. She was well enough to go home on Sunday.

Bramwell said he didn't want to alarm families, but said parents should be aware of the illness. He said more cases are likely coming to Idaho _ nationally, there has been about one MIS-C case for every 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

``We want to suggest to families that if their child is remaining ill or seems to be getting worse over time, that this is something to bear in mind,'' Bramwell said.

Idaho has nearly 28,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, and so far at least 273 people have died from the illness.

But those numbers likely fall far short of the real tally because not everyone is able to be tested for the disease and in some cases a person is infected with virus and able to spread it without ever developing symptoms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that by the end of July, about 570 MIS-C patients had been reported across the United States. In most of them, the illness involved more than four organ systems and about two thirds of the kids didn't have any underlying medical conditions.

For most people, the coronavirus casues mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some _ especially older adults and people with existing health problems _ it can cause more severe illness like pneumonia or death.

When it occurs, MIS-C seems to follow the initial COVID-19 illness by about four weeks, Bramwell said. In some cases the affected children only had very mild COVID-19 before developing the inflammatory syndrome.

To reduce the risk of MIS-C, work to protect children from contracting coronavirus in the first place by wearing a mask, maintaining a safe distance from others and by regularly washing hands, Bramwell said.

``For all of us, just watch those three things and make sure that we're being vigilant for the protection of ourselves as well as our children,'' he said.