Southeastern Wisconsin child dies from rare, serious COVID-19 related condition, DHS says

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)-- Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reported the state's first death from multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

The child was under 10-years-old from Southeastern Wisconsin. Their vaccination status is unknown.

“We are saddened to report that a child has passed away from MIS-C," State Health Officer Paula Tran said. “Although COVID-19 cases are declining throughout the state, we are still seeing very high levels of disease transmission in all 72 counties. As COVID-19 continues to cause illness, hospitalizations, and death in our communities, we urge all Wisconsinites to take steps to protect themselves against COVID-19.”

MIS-C is a rare, but serious condition that can appear in people younger than 21 years old after becoming infected with COVID-19. It's most common in kids ages three to 11.

"MIS-C starts anywhere from two to six weeks after a child has been exposed," DHS Respiratory Disease Epidemiologist Tom Haupt said. "During that original exposure, they may not have any symptoms. So, they might not have any idea that they ever had an exposure to COVID-19."

Haupt warns all parents should be aware of the symptoms.

"Usually starts off with a lingering fever, and then that can go into chest pain, abdominal pain, some of which can be very severe and actually could mimic appendicitis," Haupt said.

If a child has trouble breathing or staying awake and alert, Haupt said they should be taken to the emergency room. A series of laboratory tests can diagnose MIS-C.

"The laboratory tests identify the inflammatory markers. It will also tell you if there are any problems or inconsistencies with the cardiac, with the heart, with their kidneys, with their abdomen. It's a very, very complex test," Haupt said.

Haupt said about 60 percent of the state's cases need to be admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. The state reported 183 cases since the COVID-19 pandemic started. 

"We have been seeing more cases," Haupt said. "Since the first of January, we've had 33 cases."

Blood thinners and steroids are used to treat the condition.

Haupt said the best way parents can protect their children is to get them vaccinated. If they are too young for a COVID-19 vaccine, he said the family members who can, should get the shot. 

The Centers for Disease and Control and DHS are still learning about the full effects of MIS-C. It was first discovered a year and a half ago. 

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