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Health dept. identifies 1st case of inflammatory COVID-19-linked pediatric syndrome in the Shenandoah Valley

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 10:25 AM EDT
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The Virginia Department of Health has reported the fifth confirmed case in the state of a pediatric inflammatory illness associated with COVID-19—and the first case of the condition in the Shenandoah Valley.

The department’s website on Friday showed a new case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children in the Central Shenandoah Health District, which includes Augusta County, Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Highland County, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Rockingham County, Staunton, and Waynesboro.

Later in the day, the Virginia Department of Health issued a statement with a few more details, including that the child has recovered.

The exact location of the patient is unclear and will not be revealed to protect patient privacy. No other details, including the age of the child, were provided, for the same reasons.

“This case was identified after the fact, based on new information that is available concerning this syndrome,” said Central Shenandoah Health District Director Dr. Laura Kornegay. “Identifying this case adds to our scientific knowledge of the spectrum of COVID-19 related disease.”

Officials confirmed Virginia’s first case of MIS-C in the Fairfax Health District back on May 19, saying at the time that that child was recovering at home.

While children have generally not experienced severe cases of COVID-19, health officials have warned over the past two months of the new inflammatory illness related to the virus.

MIS-C, previously called Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, is a health condition associated with COVID-19. The CDC alerted doctors that the condition had reported been in at least 110 New York children in May, sparking national awareness of the condition, which doctors have been investigating since then.

A few children across the country have died.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the first reports of the syndrome came from the United Kingdom in late April.

MIS-C may cause problems with a child’s heart and other organs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most children with MIS-C have a fever lasting several days and may show symptoms of irritability or decreased activity, abdominal pain without another explanation, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, conjunctivitis, lack of appetite, red or cracked lips, red or bumpy tongue, or swollen hands and feet.

Not all children show the same symptoms though and you should call your doctor immediately if your child becomes ill with a persistent fever and any of the above symptoms.

If your child shows any emergency warning signs — 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 — go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately.

State health commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. issued a letter with guidance on the syndrome to Virginia health care providers on May 15.

“I urge all local health care providers to immediately report any patient who meets these criteria to the local health department,” said Laura Kornegay, M.D., director, Central Shenandoah Health District. “Though we are in Phase Two of recovery, everyone should still take steps to avoid exposure to COVID-19 by practicing physical distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing cloth face coverings as appropriate.”

As more businesses reopen in Phase 2 and then in Phase 3 next week, the health district is urging individuals and families to stay vigilant about hand washing, physical distancing, and facial coverings.

Cloth face coverings are not recommended for children under 2 years old, but are strongly encouraged for anyone 3 and older. Virginia’s mask mandate only requires them for children 10 and older, though businesses and organizations can have much stricter policies in place.

With community spread across Virginia, people of any age, race and gender are at risk for infection, severe illness and even death, the health district says.

Children are less likely than adults to develop COVID-19 and their illnesses usually are less severe, although they can spread the disease without showing symptoms.

The health department on Friday reported 624 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 60,570. The department reported a total of 1,700 confirmed or probable deaths from the disease.

Around the world, millions have been infected and the U.S. saw its highest daily total of new cases on June 26, breaking a record previously set in April.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.

The majority of people recover.

Cases of MIS-C in Virginia are reported on the VDH website at www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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