8 children in Alaska develop syndrome associated with COVID-19

A microscopic image of yellow blobs in a purple background
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (in yellow) — the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (in blue/pink) cultured in a lab. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Eight youths from Alaska have developed a serious inflammatory syndrome from previous coronavirus infections, state health officials said in a report.

The report released on Friday said some of the eight youths ended up in the pediatric intensive care unit with severe complications.

The condition they developed is called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. The syndrome can lead to inflamed organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since May 2020, the CDC has reported 2,617 cases of the syndrome and 33 deaths from the syndrome across the U.S.

Most cases were in children and adolescents between the ages of 1 and 14, with the median age being 9. Cases have occurred in children and adolescents aged less than 1 year old and up to 20.

About 66% of the reported cases have occurred in children who are Hispanic, Latino or Black — a total of 1,586 cases, according to the CDC.

Roughly 99% of those who developed the syndrome had previously tested positive for the coronavirus. The remaining 1% were around someone who had the coronavirus, the CDC said.

“This happens to kids after COVID,” said Dr. Benjamin Westley, an infectious disease specialist who treated six of the eight Alaska minors and contributed to the report. “It’s weeks after COVID, where their immune systems are kind of going haywire.”

The first eight reported MIS-C cases in Alaska were diagnosed among youths from the Matanuska-Susitna region and Anchorage. Of the cases, half were 4-years-old or younger while three were between ages 5 and 10. One case was reported in a person between the ages of 11 and 20, said health officials.

All eight experienced fever, inflammation and cardiac symptoms. Some experienced skin, gastrointestinal, respiratory, blood and neurologic symptoms, the newspaper reported. None of the minors had pre-existing conditions, the report said.

All eight patients were hospitalized and five experienced severe complications. They all survived.

A minor who is asymptomatic for the coronavirus could still develop MIS-C symptoms, Westley said.

“It’s a very, very scary thing,” Westley said. “And it certainly can be very dangerous. But, with treatment, virtually all the kids recover and seem to probably recover all the way.”