Hospitals in Jacksonville are reporting an increase in cases of MIS-C, a rare inflammatory condition linked to COVID-19 that is found in children.
Dr. Mobeen Rathore, a pediatric infectious disease expert with Wolfson Children’s hospital in Jacksonville, says the hospital typically sees MIS-C cases four to six weeks after a surge of COVID-19 in the community. It can take that long after a child is infected for MIS-C symptoms to appear.
On New Year’s Day, cases of COVID-19 surged in Florida and stayed high until mid-January. In January, Wolfson Children’s Hospital went from zero cases of MIS-C to three diagnosed patients with the rare illness.
“After every observed upsurge in COVID infections in the community, we saw an increased number of cases,” Rathore said. “This large upsurge, of course, was the worst, and we’ve seen a lot more cases.”
Across the United States, 2,000 cases of MIS-C have been reported since May 2020, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty of those cases have resulted in death.
When Dearick Nealy first took his 8-year-old daughter Deaurra to a hospital, it was for a stomachache and a fever. He took her back two more times. The third time, her condition worsened.
“That third time, it’s when she had the hives over her body, over her skin. That is when it was like, OK, this is something a little bit more serious,” said Nealy. “She ended up throwing up and couldn’t keep any food down. She went to the hospital, and that is when they did the blood antigen test and found out she had previously had COVID.”
Nealy says the positive COVID-19 antigen test came as surprise. His daughter tested negative on the PCR test for COVID-19, different than the antigen test, when he first took her to the hospital. His daughter showed no symptoms.
Doctors diagnosed Deaurra with multi-inflammatory syndrome. She died on Jan. 16. She was just 8 years old.
“It was so unexpected,” said Nealy. “We did everything possible. She wore masks to school... We used hand sanitizer.”
“She had a beautiful soul. Even to this day, I look at her videos, and my walk in her room. I left everything set up the exact same way that she left it.”
Dr. Rathore says the symptoms of MIS-C are on a spectrum, from a fever to inflammation of the heart.
“You may just have a fever or rash, that kid doesn’t feel well, or it could be so severe that they are in shock, their heart is affected, multiple organ systems are infected, and then the ICU,” Rathore said.
According to the CDC, most cases were in children and adolescents between the ages of one and 14 years old, but there are cases of 20-year-olds being diagnosed with the disease. Sixty-nine percent of the reported cases have occurred in Hispanic, Latino, or black. In 99 percent of cases, the patient tested positive for COVID-19 and in 1 percent, patients were found to be around someone with COVID-19.