Local News

NC has first case of childhood illness MIS-C, possibly related to COVID-19

Posted May 21, 2020 11:22 p.m. EDT

— The first case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, associated with COVID-19 has been reported in North Carolina, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported on Thursday.

No details were provided, but DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the child was at home and doing well.

While children generally experience mild symptoms with COVID-19, recently a possible link has been found between COVID-19 and a serious inflammatory disease in some children and teenagers who have current or recent infections

MIS-C is a rare condition, but as COVID-19 cases increase, additional reports of MIS-C could follow, officials said. Symptoms include the following:

  • A fever lasting several days
  • Irritability or decreased activity
  • Abdominal pain without another explanation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis (red or pink eyes)
  • Poor eating
  • Red, cracked lips or red, bumpy tongue that looks like a strawberry
  • Swollen hands and feet, which might also be red

Dr. Heather Van Mater said the syndrome in children is very rare and the symptoms can vary on an extreme level.

“The vast, vast majority of these children even those that are severely ill are actually able to recover and do well. In many cases almost as fast as they become sick they improve almost that quickly," Van Mater said. "So we will learn more over the next few months and give people more information. Right now, it’s data gathering and then just doing everything we can to be prepared.”

MIS-C is not contagious, but children with these symptoms could have COVID-19 or another infection that may be contagious, officials said.

Although DHHS didn't say where the child is from, UNC Health, Duke Health and WakeMed all said Thursday that they haven't treated any MIS-C cases to date.

Mater and other experts believe the children that are experiencing MIS-C had COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus at one point. She also said because of that exposure, the children’s immune system essentially has been pushed into overdrive causing a more significant illness than the initial virus itself.

As of right now, Duke, WakeMed and UNC Hospitals have not seen any cases of MIS-C. However, the state does have the hospital capacity and resources if we were to see clusters of the disease.

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