Childhood illness with links to COVID spreading in Tulare County

County Health officials caution parents about attending day camps to protect children from multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C)

TULARE COUNTY – A children’s disease with possible links to COVID-19 is affecting Tulare County children at a higher rate than the rest of the state.

Tulare County Public Health officials announced last week that cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) are being reported in Tulare County children. Of the total MIS-C cases being reported in California, 10% of known cases are children who reside in Tulare County.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal (gut) pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or extra tiredness. It is unknown what causes MIS-C; however, many children with MIS-C had the strand of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 or had been around someone with COVID-19.

Public health officials urge parents to be cautious as various day camps and daycare facilities are being established at school sites and childcare operations are expanded, since these types of facilities pose a risk of COVID-19 transmission in children.

“It’s extremely important for parents to be aware of the elevated risks of MIS-C due to the prevalence COVID-19 throughout Tulare County and take necessary precautions,” stated Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County public health officer. “Keeping children home as much as possible and limiting exposure outside the immediate household is the best preventive measure until case rates of COVID-19 decline.”

Case rates of COVID-19 continue to be of concern to public health officials, with Tulare County reporting some of the highest rates of COVID-19 transmission and positivity rates in the state. Residents are encouraged to continue wearing face coverings, as this practice reduces COVID-19 transmission and will contribute to reductions in cases. The COVID-19 virus poses a risk to children, who can become very ill from the virus. To date over 1,700 minors have contracted COVID-19 in Tulare County, and the long-term health consequences of a child having COVID-19 are concerning to medical experts and will remain unknown until the children are older.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children may begin weeks after a child is infected with or exposed to COVID-19. MIS-C cases require evidence of recent or past COVID-19 infection by diagnostic or serology testing. The child may have been infected from an asymptomatic contact and, in some cases, children and their caregivers may not even know they had been infected. Most children diagnosed with MIS-C have had known exposure to a person infected with COVID-19 or laboratory evidence of either past or current COVID-19 infection, and the majority have had no documented underlying medical conditions. Most known cases are in children between the ages of one and 14 years, with an average age of eight years.

Parents should contact their child’s physician right away if their child is showing symptoms of MIS-C or symptoms of COVID-19. If a child is showing any emergency warning signs, including 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, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

Parents seeking more information on MIS-C can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the following shortened URLs: bit.ly/2Ev0Bb5 and the American Academy of Pediatrics at bit.ly/3hEy6WM.

Officials also warn that social gatherings such as birthday parties and play dates present a high risk for COVID-19 infection. Tulare County Public Health encourages parents to be vigilant in protecting their children from COVID-19 and therefore prevent further cases of MIS-C.

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