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11 kids in Washington state have been diagnosed with rare coronavirus syndrome

Sandi Doughton, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

SEATTLE -- Since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, a total of 11 children in Washington state have been hospitalized with a rare but serious syndrome that appears to be triggered by infection with the virus, state health officials said Friday.

The state's first four cases were reported in May, and seven other children have been stricken since then, said Dr. Marisa D'Angeli, an epidemiologist at the Washington Department of Health. The pattern of cases roughly tracks the resurgence of infections across the state this summer.

All of the children were very sick, D'Angeli said. The majority were in intensive care, and some required mechanical ventilation. No children have died in Washington either from regular coronavirus infections or the associated syndrome.

Called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, the little-understood condition can affect the heart, kidneys and gut. Symptoms include high fever, rash, swelling, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. The cause seems to be a runaway immune response that flares after the initial coronavirus infection, said Dr. John McGuire, chief of critical care at Seattle Children's, where eight of the 11 kids were treated.

"These kids feel terrible," he said. "They're tired, weak, achy, they have pretty high fevers. They feel completely wiped out."

But the good news is that all of the children have responded well to treatment, with no apparent long-term effects.

 

"We've been really pleased with their recovery," McGuire said.

Most of Washington's initial cases of MIS-C were in Western Washington, where the virus took hold first. Now, most cases are being diagnosed in Central Washington, following the recent spike of cases there, McGuire said.

King and Yakima counties have seen three cases each. Franklin and Snohomish counties have two cases each, and Skagit County has one. About 12% of Washington's confirmed coronavirus infections -- or about 7,300 cases -- have been in children or teenagers.

As with adult coronavirus infections across the state, children of color have been disproportionately impacted by MIS-C, D'Angeli said. Of Washington's confirmed cases of the syndrome, 55% are Hispanic, 18% are white, and 9% are each Black, Asian and American Indian or Alaska Native.

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