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Doctors see rise in COVID-19-related serious illness in children

RADY CHILDRENS HOSPITAL SIGN
Posted at 5:01 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 17:27:49-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- An alarming number of children are being rushed to Rady Children's Hospital near San Diego for treatment for "MIS-C," an illness connected to COVID-19. It's part of a nationwide increase in these cases.

While the coronavirus pandemic dominates the headlines, pediatricians worldwide are seeing a spike in another dangerous trend.

"We are just in the midst of the 'MIS-C' epidemic right now," Dr. Adriana Tremoulet, Pediatric Infectious Diseases physician at Rady Children's Hospital, told 10News.

"MIS-C" stands for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. It is an inflammatory reaction to COVID-19, affecting mostly school-age children, who two to six weeks prior, got COVID-19 themselves or were exposed to the virus.

"Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes, red lips, rash throughout the body, the hands and feet can have a rash on them or bright red as well," Dr. Tremoulet said.

Since last April, Dr. Tremoulet says there have been 57 cases of "MIS-C" at Rady Children's Hospital. But a majority of the patients were seen in the last two months. Timing-wise, she says, it aligns exactly two to six weeks after the holiday COVID spike in adults.

"The heart itself has been affected. So the heart is a pump, and it does not pump well in many of these children," Dr. Tremoulet said.

Children spend on average five to nine days at Rady Children's Hospital, and many need care at the Intensive Care Unit. Doctors treat the patients with ample doses of anti-inflammatories and, in some cases, steroids.

Dr. Tremoulet says "MIS-C" predominantly affects Latino and African American children. But it is unknown if it is because there is a larger COVID-19 rate among these demographics or a genetic predisposition.

"Latin America is seeing a lot of Latino children with 'MIS-C,' but they are also seeing a lot of COVID. Whereas countries in Asia have also, of course, less COVID, but they're not seeing any 'MIS-C' at all," Dr. Tremoulet said.

Dr. Tremoulet asks parents to be extra vigilant if they had or were exposed to COVID-19 in recent weeks.

"Use that barometer as a parent, where you know that your child is ill more than they normally would be, and seek medical attention," Dr. Tremoulet said.

The youngest "MIS-C" patient at Rady Children's Hospital was two years old, and the oldest was in their teens. But there have been some cases nationwide where "MIS-C" presents itself in young adults.

The death rate of "MIS-C" is 3 to 5%. But at Rady Children's Hospital, thankfully, there have been no deaths.

This story originally reported by Rina Nakano on 10News.com.

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.