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St. Luke's Children's Hospital diagnoses 7-year-old patient with MIS-C

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is associated with COVID-19 and is potentially serious in children, St. Luke's says.

BOISE, Idaho — St. Luke's Children's announced Tuesday it is treating what is believed to be Idaho's first child with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), an illness associated with COVID-19. 

The 7-year-old patient, who has no known underlying health conditions, was treated at St. Luke's Children's Hospital but has since been sent back to her home in the Treasure Valley and is recovering well.

MIS-C is a newly recognized and potentially serious illness in children, according to St. Luke's Children's Medical Director Dr. Kenny Bramwell. 

In order to be diagnosed with and treated for MIS-C, there are six criteria that must be met:

  • The person must be a pediatric patient, meaning under 21 years of age. Bramwell said a typical pediatric patient is between the ages of zero and 18. There is no known reason why this age criterion was set.
  • The patient must have a high fever for more than 24 hours.
  • The patient must be admitted to the hospital.
  • Multiple systems must be involved. Symptoms vary from person to person but tend to affect several organs and systems in the body. 
  • The patient must have physical signs of inflammation.
  • The patients must have positive COVID-19 exposure, as this illness is a delayed complication of the virus and cannot be diagnosed without exposure to it.

Children infected with MIS-C are ill enough to be admitted to the hospital, but the condition is extremely rare to date.

The latest CDC data from August 7 reported 570 children have been diagnosed with MIS-C in the United States. Ten children have died, placing the mortality rate at just under 2%.

64% of the children diagnosed were admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

In Idaho, MIS-C is exceptionally rare with only one confirmed diagnosis out of 2,595 kids with a confirmed COVID-19 case. To date, 11 children have been hospitalized at St. Luke's Children due to COVID-19.

The peak age for diagnosis is between 5 and 10 years old, but Bramwell said reports have shown six patients less than one year of age. 

There is nothing in the literature that suggests something like blood type or weight would make a child more susceptible to MIS-C. Bramwell also said there is no correlation between the severity of COVID-19 and MIS-C in a given patient.

Symptoms are similar to those of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) or Kawasaki disease in which blood vessels enlarge and can form aneurysms. Some MIS-C patients have "signs of impaired cardiac function, gastrointestinal symptoms, kidney damage or neurologic symptoms."

Although this is a new complication, Bramwell said St. Luke's was anticipating a positive diagnosis of MIS-C at some point and is, unfortunately, anticipating more. 

"I would expect that we will see more of this illness. Hopefully not a great deal more, but more of this illness as we continue to see COVID," Bramwell said. "I don't know that we have a handle on how much longer we're going to see COVID, but we certainly are expecting it for many months at this point."

However, MIS-C is not contagious and treatment options are readily available.

"What is done commonly is what we call supportive care," Bramwell said. "If someone is dehydrated, they get IV fluids. If there's a concern that there is a bacterial infection, they get antibiotics. There's not one thing that's just for this illness."

Treatment options vary on which systems are being disrupted by MIS-C. Doctors with different specializations are utilized to treat children experiencing different symptoms, according to Bramwell.

There are no specific precautionary measures to avoid MIS-C, as it is a complication of COVID-19. However, Bramwell is strongly encouraging Idahoans to continue practicing safety measures of slowing the spread of COVID-19 in hopes of slowing MIS-C.

"I think the best way to prevent MIS-C and to prevent spikes in other pediatric illnesses related to COVID is for all of us to just watch those three things (handwashing, social distancing, wearing a mask) and make sure we're being vigilant for the protection of ourselves as well as our children," Bramwell said.

If you are concerned that your child may have been exposed to COVID-19 and is exhibiting symptoms of MIS-C, seek timely medical attention and call your primary pediatrician. 

You can learn more about MIS-C by clicking here.

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