Children's Wisconsin reports first cases of kids experiencing syndrome linked to COVID-19

Posted at 6:36 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 22:06:38-04

MILWAUKEE — We’ve seen the troubling reports from other cities around the country — children experiencing a rare, and sometimes deadly, syndrome linked to COVID-19.

Now, the state of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital are investigating at least seven suspected cases of it here. All seven of those children are under the age of five.

“The majority of cases in Wisconsin right now seem to be coming out of the southeast Wisconsin area,” said Dr. Michael Gutzeit, Chief Medical Officer at Children’s Hospital.

It’s unnerving for a lot of parents, but there is an initial glimmer of hope, out of the seven kids affected, five of them have been discharged from Children’s Wisconsin and are doing well. Two of the kids are still recovering in the hospital, but are in good condition.

Doctors are calling the condition Multi-Symptom Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C.

Symptoms are similar to rare Kawasaki disease, which can cause swelling of vital organs.

Things to look out for? Persistent fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, a rash, swelling of hands and feet, red eyes, lethargy, and an overall sick appearance.

MIS-C is typically treated with medications that reduce inflammation.

“Parents should call their pediatrician if their child is experiencing any symptoms that may be consistent with MIS-C,” said Dr. Zhu. “Once they’re hospitalized, some of the children can get ill quite quickly, so parents never hesitate to call.”

Doctors are noticing a trend, similar to COVID-19.

“It seems to be affecting African Americans, or people of African descent, a little bit more,” said Dr. Frank Zhu, the Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention at Children’s Wisconsin. “It doesn’t seem to affect a similar number of Caucasians.”

Most kids who develop MIS-C either had coronavirus, even if they never had symptoms, or were exposed to someone who had the virus, and developed COVID-19 antibodies.

“MIS-C is likely not infectious, it is more of a post-infectious complication,” said Dr. Zhu. “Like an immune response after they’ve cleared the virus from their body. It’s usually detectable after two weeks or so.”

A team of doctors at Children’s Hospital have been assigned to study and treat MIS-C. They are working with other doctors around the country and world to learn more about the syndrome.

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