Virginia Reports First Child With Rare Syndrome Linked to Coronavirus

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A child in the Fairfax County area of Virginia is recovering from a life-threatening illness associated with COVID-19, health officials said Tuesday.

The child was hospitalized on May 5 with "multisystem inflammatory syndrome," or MIS-C, a new health condition that can cause a range of symptoms including heart problems, persistent fever, hypotention and inflammation.

It's unknown how old the child is. The state health department said the child was discharged from the hospital and recovering at home.

At least three other children in the D.C. area have the rare illness.

"Most children with MIS-C have 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," the Virginia Department of Health said in a statement.

Dr. Roberta DeBiasi, the chief of infectious diseases at Children's National Hospital, says the newly identified syndrome appears to be the result of a child's immune system's going into overdrive after a COVID-19 infection, even though some didn't know they had caught the virus.

"Your body does what it usually does with antibodies to clear the infection, but then this response is either too much or too long or dysregulated so you're accidentally inflaming all these other parts of the body," DeBiasi said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert on May 14 about the syndrome as new cases continue to rise in New York. At least three children have died and there were at least 130 possible cases in New York, as of Monday.

MIS-C has been reported in at least 19 states and Washington, D.C. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says six European countries have also seen cases.

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