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Rare, post-COVID pediatric illness seeing spike in Omaha metro

Children's Hospital says MIS-C cases rising
Posted at 6:13 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 19:13:08-05

OMAHA, Neb. — A rare, but deadly post-COVID-19 illness is starting to cause concern within the local pediatric community. The illness is called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C.

Symptoms for MIS-C can appear two to six weeks after a COVID-19 infection, even if the child had no symptoms during their COVID-19 infection.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, muscle aches and headaches. Rash breakout and high fever are more severe symptoms. MIS-C can also inflame the heart, lungs and brain.

Over half of the children admitted to Children's Hospital and Medical Center for this infection had to be admitted to the ICU.

"The most severe cases have ended up on life support," Children's Hospital and Medical Center pediatric cardiologist Dr. Jean Ballweg said. "Some of them have ended up on the ventilator. It's not uncommon."

Read more: COVID-linked disease that affects children is on the rise in our region

Medical experts have known about this illness for months. They've known MIS-C affects infants and teenagers. They've known children with underlying health conditions, like obesity are a bit more at risk, but that no child is immune. What they didn't expect however, is a spike in the area.

"Since November we've really seen an uptick in our cases. We could speculate as to why that is – is it because kids went back to school? Is it because of the holidays," Dr. Ballweg asked.

No matter the reason, MIS-C cases are on the rise and the illness is directly correlated with COVID-19. Dr. Ballweg says although previous thought processes included not worrying about children and COVID-19, that now has to become priority.

"I would just recommend to parents that they continue to follow the CDC guidelines and social distance, enforce masks and good hand hygiene in the home," she said.

Children's Hospital and Medical Center reports no deaths associated with MIS-C, but there are a growing number of cases.

"In total we have reported almost 40 cases of MIS-C to the CDC. It may not seem like a lot of bases but based on the population density in Nebraska, it actually is," Dr. Ballweg said.