A number of children’s hospitals across the country are warning of an increase in cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare condition in which various parts of the body including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs become inflamed .
The surge follows the country’s recent summer delta surge in pediatric infections.
MIS-C, which occurs most commonly four to six weeks after COVID-19 infection, can be serious and potentially fatal, but most children diagnosed with it recover, according to the Centers for Control and Prevention Illnesses with medical care.
Federal data shows that there were at least 46 confirmed MIS-C deaths and 5,217 confirmed MIS-C cases – and about 61% of the reported cases occurred in children who are Hispanic / Latino or Black. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 who may soon be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine have reported the highest number of MIS-C cases since the pandemic began.
Almost 5.9 million children have tested positive for COVID-19, and MIS-C infections make up only 0.0009% of pediatric COVID-19 cases. However, between July and August, the average number of daily MIS-C cases almost doubled.
“MIS-C occurs around four to six weeks after primary COVID infection, and we know the Delta variant really affected children, more than previous waves, so it’s not really a big surprise, a couple of weeks after your first cases of COVID start rolling and then you see your MIS-C cases kick in, “Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, told ABC News on Friday in terms of the recent upward trend in the facility.
Dayton Children’s Hospital told ABC News that they too have seen an upward trend in the past few weeks. And it’s not just in Ohio that officials are seeing growth. In Tennessee, the number of MIS-C cases has more than tripled since early February.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in children with the rise in the Delta variant in our area over the past two months,” said Dr. Sophie Katz, assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital in Vanderbilt, in a press release on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, after this surge, we expect MIS-C cases to rise.”
Earlier this week, officials at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, said at a news conference that their doctors have seen an increase in MIS-C in recent weeks as more children test positive.
“I personally saw three with MIS-C last week,” said Dr. Angela Myers, the infectious disease director at Children’s Mercy. “I think we had more [children] have continued to be hospitalized ever since. That’s more than the zero we had several months earlier. “
And on Wednesday, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which houses Mississippi’s only children’s hospital, reported that the state is still seeing acute cases of COVID-19 and MIS-C in children.
“What we have now is both MIS-C and Severe Acute COVID-19, and I think it’s because schools are dropping the mask requirement,” said Dr. Charlotte Hobbs, Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Director of the UMMC’s MIS-C Clinic, in a statement. “We saw this decline in Acute COVID-19 and then MIS-C, and now Acute COVID-19 is on the rise again. Acute COVID-19 and MIS-C at the same time are something that has never happened before and it is preventable. “
The six-year-old son of Sharella Ruffin from Utah, Zyaire, contracted the rare syndrome earlier this month.
“How can something like this take over your child’s life in about a week? I do not understand that. It was like the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. No mother should ever hear that her baby can’t make it, “Ruffin told ABC News on Friday.” To see your 6-year-old son just lying there. And he’s scared and doesn’t know what’s going on. “
According to the CDC, the best way for parents to keep their child safe is to take “everyday measures” to prevent COVID-19, including wearing masks and washing hands.
Serious illness from COVID-19 currently remains “uncommon” in children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
However, any acute illness from COVID-19 and the death of a child are worrying, said Dr. Richard Besser, a pediatrician and former CDC assistant director, told ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday.
“One of the myths out there is that this COVID pandemic is not affecting children. Over 600 children died. There were thousands who were hospitalized, ”said Besser.
Experts continue to stress the urgency that not only must children be vaccinated if they are eligible, but that their parents and everyone in the communities around them receive the vaccination as soon as possible.
ABC News’ Felicia Biberica, Kelly Landrigan and Kristen Red-Horse contributed to this report.