Mystery illness kills fourth child in Louisiana

Syndrome appears in some children who contract COVID-19

By: - August 10, 2020 5:51 pm

Doctor taking a swab sample. (Stock photo by Mladen Sladojevic/Getty Images)

MIS-C Emergency Warning Signs:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest that doesn’t go away
  • Confusion
  • Can’t wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

A fourth child has died in Louisiana from a coronavirus-related condition called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), according to a report released Monday from the Louisiana Department of Health.

The LDH did not identify the child or the locations in which the deaths have occurred.

MIS-C is a serious health condition in children under 21 where different body organs become inflamed and eventually shut down. The organs include the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. 

Symptoms of MIS-C may include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and/or feeling extra tired.

The specific cause of the syndrome is not yet understood, but it is known to occur in some children and teenagers who have contracted COVID-19 or been exposed to another individual with COVID-19, the health department said.

“Louisiana is seeing an increasing number of cases of MIS-C among young people,” the LDH report said.

As of Monday, Louisiana had 44 confirmed cases of MIS-C. Those cases have spanned a range of ages from infants as young as 1 month to teens as old as 19. The four deaths occurred in kids between 2 and 19. Two of them had underlying medical conditions.

The disease causes severe illness requiring hospitalization, and the young people diagnosed with MIS-C in Louisiana have been hospitalized for an average of seven days, according to the LDH.

MIS-C is a mandatory reportable condition in Louisiana, and the Department of Health urges clinicians across the state to immediately report any suspected cases to LDH, the report said.

The Department of Health urges parents and caregivers to watch for the symptoms of MIS-C in their children, including emergency warning signs such as trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure that does not go away, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face, and severe abdominal pain.

The Centers for Disease Control is still learning about MIS-C and how it affects children.

“We don’t know why some children have gotten sick with MIS-C and others have not,” the CDC’s website says. “We also do not know if children with certain health conditions are more likely to get MIS-C. These are among the many questions CDC is working to try to understand.”

The best way to protect against MIS-C is through prevention of COVID-19, according to the CDC.

“All Louisianans need to wear a mask and practice social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the LDH said.

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Wes Muller
Wes Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Much of his journalism has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and coverage of municipal and state government. He has received recognitions including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus and a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his two sons and his wife, who is also a journalist.

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