FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Health officials issued a warning Thursday of a serious and potentially deadly illness associated with COVID-19 cases in children.
The syndrome, known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C, was first diagnosed in the Central Valley in May 2020. There have now been roughly 400 cases statewide with more than 100 of those reported at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. Experts said it affects children and young adults up to 21-years-old.
“It has been thought to be provoked by the virus and creating like a cascade of inflammation and really triggering a storm you’d say in the body,” Dr. Reshma Patel a pediatric rheumatologist said.
Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County’s interim health officer, said many, even families affected, do not know much about MIS-C.
“They were completely surprised. They’d never heard about the syndrome,” he said.
Health officials said MIS-C only affects those who have contracted COVID-19 and causes inflammation of different body parts including the brain and heart. Symptoms can start weeks after infection. They include extreme fatigue, vomiting, high fever and rashes. Most have to be treated in a hospital, and while many recover, some need the ICU.
“Prevention is definitely the best method and if not prevention then early diagnosis and really just getting these kids to the specialist as soon as possible so that they can get the treatments that they need,” Vohra said.
Medical professionals said there may be a rise in cases as schools reopen, sports resume and students return from spring break but said MIS-C itself is not contagious.
“[Parents getting vaccinated] is a way to protect their children if they are vaccinated the parents aren’t going to bring it home to their children,” Dr. Hailey Nelson a pediatric specialist said.
The syndrome is so new doctors said they don’t know if patients will have long-term complications and said they’ll need to continue to monitor their conditions.