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Rare COVID syndrome can have drastic consequences if ignored

Rare COVID syndrome can have drastic consequences if ignored

Bloomington’s Rachel Geiser knew the second she saw her daughter, something wasn’t right and she sprang into action.

The normally healthy 15-year-old Claire said she didn’t think much of it when her symptoms started. She had a headache, fever and a really bad stomach pain. Then, she felt lightheaded and started throwing up. When she started having chills and pain that kept her up, Geiser knew, it was time to act. 

Geiser phoned pediatrician Andrea Kane, MD, at Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center for advice. Dr. Kane suspected that Claire had Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a rare condition where the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs become inflamed. 

Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal (gut) pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. 

“Most children do well with COVID as a minor illness managed with supportive care, fluids and rest. However, if symptoms worsen, or don't improve quickly, it would be time to see the doctor. MIS-C is rare, but important for the public to be aware of its existence for prompt evaluation,” Dr. Kane said. 

“Claire had a mild case of COVID mid-December but this was several weeks later so it never occurred to me this could be related and caught me be surprise,” Geiser said.

Her mom said the doctor told her not to Google MIS-C and sent them to the Emergency Department where they waiting.

Most children who become ill with MIS-C will need treatment in the hospital. Some, like Claire, need advanced care in the Urbana-based Carle Foundation Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which opened just a year ago to serve the region. So far, Carle has treated about a dozen children for MIS-C.

Carle Arrow Ambulance’s specialized Pediatric Transport Team monitored Claire until she arrived at the PICU. She spent 13 days recovering with the help of medication, and for a brief period of time, a ventilator to support her breathing. 

“I’m a nurse too but as a mom, it’s a whole other ball game. It’s terrifying and heartbreaking watching your child need help to breathe even though I knew it was best to reduce the stress on other organs so they could start to recover,” Geiser said.

Geiser credits the Carle team for keeping Claire’s parents informed of her progress and while she never left her side, she knew Claire was safe if she needed some rest or a quick break.

“The doctors rounded daily, explained what to expect and answered our questions. She still has a long road ahead.”

Back home, Claire still suffers from minor pain, has some trouble sleeping and continues to follow up with Pediatric Cardiology to keep things on track. She has returned to school and looks forward to working out and dancing soon. 

“While we’ve had only about a dozen cases here, we know that children who need help need it very quickly. Our Pediatricians are well equipped to identify this syndrome and call on additional resources as needed,” Brent Reifsteck, MD, medical director of Children’s Services, Carle Health, said.

Contact your child’s provider right away if your child is showing symptoms of MIS-C or symptoms of COVID-19. If your child is showing any emergency warning signs including trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away, new confusion, inability to wake up or stay awake, bluish lips or face, or severe abdominal pain, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

“Parents know their child best. If they have a high fever for a few days or symptoms that aren’t improving, they should reach out to their Pediatrician for guidance even if they haven’t had a positive COVID test or known exposure,” Dr. Reifsteck said.

Categories: Staying Healthy

Tags: Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, covid-19, MIS-C, pediatrics