Fortunately, throughout the pandemic, children usually aren’t the ones who end up hospitalized due to COVID-19.
However, some hospitals, including Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, are reporting a recent spike in a very rare inflammatory disease in children that has been linked to COVID-19 -- Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, also known as MIS-C.
While it’s rare, doctors say it can be serious, and it can affect pretty much any organ and often multiple organ systems. Symptoms can include a high fever, respiratory or gastrointestinal issues, and sometimes even a rash.
Since August, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital has treated about 60 kids for MIS-C. About one-third of those cases have been in the last two months.
“The trajectory of this illness follows about six to 10 weeks after an acute COVID infection,” explained Dr. Ronald Ford, the Chief Medical Officer at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “It stands to reason that if you have a spike in the community, that you’re going to see more of these types of cases of MIS-C about 6-10 weeks later, and that’s exactly what we've seen here.”
Dr. Ford said the spike was somewhat anticipated given the December and January spike in the community from around the holidays.
Similar to COVID-19 in general, Dr. Ford says MIS-C has been disproportionately impacting African American and Hispanic children as well.
“About two-thirds of the cases at Joe DiMaggio have been African American children, and about a quarter of them have been children of Hispanic descent," Dr. Ford said.
While the disease is rare, doctors want to make sure parents recognize the symptoms and seek medical care.
Dr. Ford says the Children’s Hospital is not out of the spike just yet -- they’re still seeing about 2-3 cases a week. However, he expects this to taper off soon since the case count in the community is now much lower.
A spokesperson with Niklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami told NBC 6 they are not seeing the same spike in MIS-C cases.
According to the CDC, as of Feb. 1, 2021, there are about 2,060 reported cases of MIS-C across the country.