NEW JERSEY — New Jersey is among the three states hit hardest by a rare inflammatory syndrome diagnosed in children battling coronavirus, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control.
The illness, known multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), has been diagnosed in at least 31 kids in New Jersey.
Children with the syndrome have symptoms resembling Kawasaki disease, another rare childhood condition that can cause swelling and heart problems. Other symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes or feeling extra tired.
The illness can also cause problems for cardiovascular systems and inflammation of the muscles of the heart as well as what’s known as “strawberry tongue,” a swollen, bumpy tongue.
According to the CDC report, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts saw more than 31 cases of MIS-C between March and July. Illinois and Pennsylvania, Louisiana and California each reported 21 to 30 cases of the inflammatory illness in children.
Three children in New Jersey have died from coronavirus-related complications, all involving children 4 years old and younger. But it wasn’t immediately clear if they were linked to MIS-C. Read more: Coronavirus In NJ Children: New Data On Cases, Deaths Released
The reports echo the latest public health data in New Jersey that shows nearly 6,000 people who are 18 and younger have been diagnosed with COVID-19, making up around 3 percent of the state’s confirmed cases to date. Of those, 1,021 were 4 years old and younger.
Just last week, officials in New Jersey announced that they are investigating the death of a 7-month-old baby who had tested positive for the coronavirus. Read more: Coronavirus May Have Caused New Jersey Infant’s Death: Officials
Gov. Phil Murphy announced 329 new overall coronavirus cases on Sunday and four more deaths. Read more: NJ Coronavirus, Reopen Updates: Here’s What You Need To Know
Nationwide, 570 children have been diagnosed with MIS-C. Ten of those children died and 364 were admitted to the ICU.
Treatments include medications such as steroids and intravenous immunoglobin. “These medications reduce the body’s excessive immune response, lowering fever and inflammation and allowing heart function to return to normal,” according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The CDC data released this week shows the most common underlying condition among those diagnosed with the disease is obesity. Nearly 150 patients diagnosed with MIS-C were obese, the CDC said. And more than 8 percent of patients had some form of chronic lung disease.
More information on the characteristics of the patients can be viewed here.
Edward Lifshitz, medical director for the state Department of Health, said the state has reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for guidance.
Lifshitz asked parents to “be aware of this, pay attention to this if you suspect symptons.”
He said people should reach out to medical experts, doctors and hospitals if they detect the disease because “this is something that is potentially treatable.”
The state Department of Health also shared additional guidance:
When should I call my child’s doctor or seek emergency care?
- You should call your child’s doctor immediately if your child becomes ill and has had continued fever. Your doctor will ask about any signs or symptoms your child has and use that information to recommend next steps. If your child is severely ill, you should go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately.
Is MIS-C contagious?
- MIS-C is not contagious. However, it is possible that your child has another underlying infection that may be contagious. Until more is known about this condition, hospitals that are treating children with MIS-C are taking the same precautions they take for patients with COVID-19.
- If a healthcare provider suspects that a child may have this syndrome, the child should be tested for the virus that causes COVID-19. This would involve a diagnostic test to see if the child is currently infected with the virus. They should also receive a serological test to see if the child has antibodies to the virus which would indicate that they had been exposed to the virus in the past or may have potentially been infected.
- There is no specific treatment for this syndrome. The child’s healthcare provider should provide treatment for the symptoms as appropriate. Early treatment of patients suspected to have MIS-C may include treatment with immune globulin that is given through a vein (also known as IV, or intravenous) and steroids. These drugs help reduce the body’s immune response that causes the inflammatory syndrome. Children are also being given other medications to protect their heart, kidneys and other organs.
- Taking steps to prevent your child from being exposed to COVID-19 is important. Physical distancing from others, using face coverings, and practicing good hand hygiene, are the best ways to prevent COVID-19.