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First W.Va. Child Is Diagnosed With Inflammatory Disease Linked To COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

West Virginia health officials reported the state’s first case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, on Tuesday.

The disease is associated with exposure to the coronavirus. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that MIS-C tends to affect children two to four weeks after they’re infected with the coronavirus, causing different body parts like the heart and lungs to become inflamed. 

Commissioner Dr. Ayne Amjad from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health said in a press release Tuesday the development was “an unfortunate reminder that COVID-19 does not just affect the elderly.” 

“We must continue to be diligent in our efforts to protect each other by social distancing, wearing masks in public and following all recommendations of local, state and federal health experts,” Amjad said.

The DHHR did not provide any additional information on the child's location or wellbeing.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 570 children with MIS-C nationwide at the end of July. The CDC also reported 10 deaths. 

So far, pediatric experts like Dr. Kathryn Moffett, who is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at West Virginia University, say MIS-C is rare, but there’s still a lot of unknowns about the disease and how the coronavirus infects children in general. 

“We shut down schools in March, and so children have really not been the ones out in the community,” Moffett said. “They have a little bit, but they're not the ones going to bars, gyms. They're not going to work. So, what we've seen in children is a little falsely reassuring. They are different because they haven't all been together.”

Dr. Mariana Lanata at Marshall Health, a pediatric infections diseases physician, said that while MIS-C is new to West Virginia, it doesn’t change the conversation around young people and the coronavirus much. 

“I don't think that having the first case of MIS-C changes that conversation,” Lanata said. “To me, the conversation has always been the same. We need to be very cautious. Every school needs to have an appropriate plan.”

Lanata said she encourages families to pay attention to resources like a color-coded map on risk to communities from the state Department of Education, which will help local school districts determine closures and reopenings.  

“Every family needs to address their own risks individually, as a family, and decide whether sending their kids to school is a good idea for them or not,” Lanata said. “Because depending on your family, your risk might be different, right?”

Both Lanata and Moffett say MIS-C isn’t contagious, but the coronavirus is. She and other experts encourage mask-wearing, good hygiene and social distancing, especially as schools begin to reopen next month.

On Thursday morning there had been nearly 9,000 cases of the coronavirus in West Virginia, 1,800 of which are active.

The state has conducted almost 378,000 tests since March and recorded 166 deaths due to COVID-19.

Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.

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