First case of serious child inflammatory illness linked to COVID-19 reported in NC

NORTH CAROLINA — The first case of a serious child inflammatory illness linked to COVID-19 has been reported in North Carolina.

While children generally experience mild symptoms with COVID-19, a possible link has been found between the virus and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare inflammatory disease.

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The disease has been found in some children and teenagers who currently have the coronavirus or recently recovered from it.

When infected, children’s body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State health officials said Thursday that MIS-C is a very rare condition, but as COVID-19 cases increase, additional reports of the illness could follow.

The first reports of the syndrome came from the United Kingdom in late April. Cases in the United States were first reported in New York City in early May, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

To protect the family’s privacy, officials said the patient’s age and other specific information about the case will not be released.

Because children with the syndrome may become seriously ill, health officials said it is important that parents and caregivers know the signs and symptoms their children may have so they can get help right away.

Most children with MIS-C have a fever (temperature of 100.4 degrees F or greater) that lasts several days, along with other symptoms.

Other common symptoms include:

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

The NCDHHS ask that you call a doctor immediately if your child has a persistent fever plus any of the above symptoms. If your child is severely ill, they recommend that you go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately.

MIS-C is not contagious, but children with symptoms of the disease could have COVID-19 or another infection that may be contagious.

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The department said all adults and children over the age of two who can reliably wear a face covering should wear one whenever they’re in public.

Even when wearing a face covering, try to cough or sneeze into your elbow, practice not touching your face and use the 3 W’s -- Wear a cloth face covering, wait at least six feet apart to maintain social distancing and wash hands regularly or use hand sanitizer.