In this file photo, Emory Hospital registered nurse Aisha Bennett takes a nasal swab test for COVID-19 in a drive through site at the Georgia International Horse Park.(CURTIS COMPTON/CURTIS.COMPTON@AJC.COM)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia agency confirms 9 cases of mysterious illness in children

Nine children in Georgia are now confirmed to have a mysterious new illness that’s likely linked to COVID-19, the state’s Department of Public Health said Thursday.

The DPH is continuing to review the cases of about half a dozen other children who might have MIS-C, or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, as it was recently named by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State officials are still trying to eliminate other illnesses and to determine if the children, who range in age from toddlers to teenagers, have COVID-19 or the antibodies triggered by the virus. Some cases have been reported in children whose coronavirus exposure was well past.

All confirmed cases will be reported to the CDC.

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Though considered rare, state officials expect more MIS-C diagnoses in the coming days as more medical professionals become aware of the syndrome and steps are being taken to better track the illness.

The symptoms include prolonged fever, lasting four or more days; very red eyes; a rash spread across the body; reddening or peeling on palms and soles of feet; abdominal pain; and vomiting or diarrhea.

CDC issues advisory for Kawasaki-like inflammatory disease associated with COVID-19
Video: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While the exact cause of the condition — and any link to COVID-19 — is not yet clear, experts believe the coronavirus may trigger the immune system to overreact and cause widespread inflammation throughout the body.

In general, children have much milder COVID-19 infections than adults, with some not even showing symptoms.

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In many ways, MIS-C resembles another rare childhood illness called Kawasaki disease, which can lead to an enlargement of blood vessels that may cause heart damage in severe cases.

No MIS-C deaths have been reported in Georgia, though there have been three fatalities in New York. Cases also have been reported in several other states and in European countries.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MIS-C

• Georgia health authorities are investigating 15 cases of a mysterious condition with likely links to the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. The ailment, recently named Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, is extremely rare.

• Symptoms include prolonged fever (four or more days), very red eyes, a rash spread across the body, reddening or peeling on palms and soles of feet, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

• The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should call their pediatrician if their child is ill, and the doctor can advise whether the child should go to the emergency room.

• If your child is in respiratory distress (having trouble breathing and taking in enough oxygen), call 911 or bring the child to the closest emergency room. Call before going to a hospital, emergency department or urgent care so they can prepare for your arrival and prevent potential exposure to COVID-19.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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