NC reports first case of rare inflammatory disease associated with COVID-19 in children

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Thursday, May 21, 2020
NC reports first case of rare inflammatory disease associated with COVID-19 in children
While children generally experience mild COVID-19 symptoms, a possibly link was recently found between COVID-19 and a serious inflammatory disease in children and teens.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported its first known case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19.

During a news conference Thursday, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the child is at home and doing well, but did not provide any other details about the child.

Though rare, some children, particularly in New York City, have presented with the serious and severe syndrome after being infected with COVID-19. Children typically have mild COVID-19 infections, but the newly discovered syndrome presents a concern for parents and pediatricians.

Wake Med pediatrician Dr. Karen Chilton compared the syndrome to Kawasaki disease, another rare condition triggered in response to a different virus.

"The immune system gets really revved up and hyperactive and causes widespread inflammation throughout the body, so what we believe we're seeing in this is a very similar response, just that it happens to be specific to the coronavirus," Chilton said.

When children have MIS-C, different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.

The CDC is still learning about MIS-C and how it affects children. It's unclear at this time why some children have gotten sick with MIS-C and others have not. It's also unknown whether children with certain health conditions are more likely to get MIS-C.

NCDHHS asked parents to watch their children for the following symptoms, especially if their child previously tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Irritability or decreased activity
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain with no other explanation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Red or pink eyes
  • Not eating
  • Red, cracked lips or a red, bumpy tongue
  • Swollen hands or feet, which may also be red

If your child has a fever and any of the above symptoms, NCDHHS urges you to call their doctor immediately.

However, Chilton added that parents should be aware, but not afraid of the condition.

"It's something to be aware of but not something to be super afraid of at this point," Chilton said. "We do have mechanisms for treating the inflammmation and so thus far, almost all of these children have ultimately done well."

What parents should know about rare condition that affects some kids with COVID-19

Dr. Jen Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent, discusses the new mysterious disease and how COVID-19 affects kids.

MIS-C is not contagious, but children with these symptoms may still have a contagious COVID-19 infection or another infection.