Vancouver – Two BC moms say their children became dangerously ill and were hospitalized with symptoms consistent with newly identified post-covid Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, MIS-C.
The Syndrome, earlier thought to be Kawasaki Disease, was named MIS-C by the WHO and the US CDC in May after it was recognized to affect children a few weeks following a Covid-19 infection.
Both mothers describe life threatening illness in their children. The families live in different parts of BC.
A third 18-year-old had a ten-day stay at Burnaby General Hospital with inflammation in her lungs, heart and kidneys.
The three cases found after a two-week investigation suggests several children have had MIS-C in BC but have not been tested to detect antibodies.
As well their data has been logged by health authorities because MIS-C is now reportable illness.
These sick children are not part of BC’s Covid-19 daily stats.
We have verified the facts surrounding all three cases however moms insisted on remaining anonymous for several reasons.
“So there was a family with kids at our kids school that had returned from travels in Europe. Before people were required to isolate. So they came right back to school,” said a woman who lives in northern BC.
“My youngest son, 7, was very sick for about 15 days. Fever. Cough. Sounded like a baby with croup. Several other kids from the school, classroom too,” she said.
The child was admitted on April 3, before WHO announced this Kawasaki-like syndrome was a post-covid complication often reported weeks after a bout with Covid-19 in symptomatic or asymptomatic children.
“Then my middle son, 8, developed fever and cough but his symptoms went right to ‘kawasaki symptoms’ plus liver involvement.
“So my 3rd son, husband and myself never got sick. But the illness my youngest had and my middle getting KD at same time as all these other kids getting MIS-C leads me to believe it was covid,” she said in an interview.
“My middle son had fevers of 39 to 41 for 16 days. Was very difficult to get him seen. Still no covid test. Finally got KD diagnosis. He was in hospital 5 days.”
At the time, MIS-C had not been identified as a syndrome associated with Covid-19. And the US CDC has said it arises several weeks later in children even if they were asymptomatic.
On June 12 BC CDC issued an alert from the Canadian Pediatric Society warning doctors to carefully monitor children.
“Children with this condition present with symptoms of systemic inflammation, and can have clinical similarities to Kawasaki Disease, toxic shock syndrome and macrophage activation syndrome. Prominent features include fever, abdominal pain, cardiac involvement and rash, among others. There may be a spectrum of disease severity and phenotypes in children affected by COVID-19-associated inflammation. A preliminary case definition has been developed by the World Health Organization and amended for use in B.C.” – the warning stated.
Not all children get the complication from having had covid and several have never been tested for Covid-19 with a swab test. And it happens in asymptomatic children who appear well.
Later, the mom says, the family was swab-tested. But several weeks had passed.
“We had covid nasal swabs. Was negative. But I really wonder if it was done too late.”
“They also tested him for many other viruses and bacteria. Those were all negative. So we dont know the trigger.
“Yes. He was in hospital just over 5 days. Had IVIG infusion. And fluids as IVIG is very hard on the body,” she said about the IV infusion of immunoglobulin which assists the immune system and is used in Kawasaki’s Disease.
“Also had the heart ultrasounds to look for heart damage. Thankfully at this point his heart seems ok.
“He had liver involvement too. I forget exact numbers. But the normal enzyme level for his age is were very high.”
“I have been pushing for antibody testing. To verify if covid or not. It was all such a big coincidence with covid and MIS-C.”
“Most importantly to determine if KD or MIS-C for long term follow up if any…”
“We were treated in PG. We should have been transferred to childrens but we were not. There was problems with follow up care in PG so we pushed for our family doc to transfer us to childrens.”
She said her child was frighteningly sick: “He was very sick. He had blood in his vomit and they just brushed it off. His stool was pale which we know now was due to liver enzymes being high
Worried about long term and ongoing symptoms her family visited BC Children’s Hospital.
Then she also called again to see if antibody tests are available.
“I called them last week to request antibody testing when it is available but have not heard back yet
“I do know my sons name is on a list of any kids who have had KD since Feb. But who knows what or if they will look further into kids on the list.”
Her sons hands were peeling off then his whole body.
“Entire hands peeled. And toes and feet.”
“I have felt a bit helpless at times. It was very hard to access medical care without utilizing emergency.
“Now trying to advocate for antibody testing to see if covid I am not getting responses or hearing back.
“Even when we did use emergency. One night my son was so very sick. They were very quick to dismiss the possibility of covid and would not test him
“Now almost 4 months later he is still easily fatigued and his hair is still falling out.”
She says she doesn’t believe parents are sufficiently acquainted with MIS-C.
“I suspect parents are not. I feel I am only more informed due to lots of research while I stayed in hospital with my son. We werent allowed to even leave our room so I had time on my hands.”
“I dont feel they should be assuming kids are at less risk with covid,” she said about government assurances children are safe in schools.
“While it is not common KD and MIS-C is very serious.”
“I am nervous to send my own kids back. But I dont feel like I have much options. So I dont know that I have any advice other then good hand hygiene and lots of respect for our brave teachers.”
Her child’s follow up care has now been taken over by BC Children’s Hospital.
In the second case, we interviewed a mom whose 18-year-old was admitted to Children’s Hospital.
“I have been at Children’s with this as one of a few possible diagnoses for my teen son. Fought for his life one night. So grateful he is on the mend and hopeful kidney and more fully recover. This is not theoretical. They’ve seen several cases in ICU here.”
“He actually never had a positive COVID diagnosis but may have had MIS-C. His discharge papers indicated MIS-C or Atypical Kawasaki or Toxic Shock, but MIS-C was considered most likely,” she said in an emailed response.
“It couldn’t be put as the sole diagnosis as he had never had prior Covid testing.
“He had had pneumonia in March when they weren’t testing many people for Covid.
“He is a pretty private teenager. As well, we have some very senior family that are somewhat fragile and we don’t want to create extra stress that may impact their health,” she said asking for anonymity.
Case 3 relates to a 18-year-old girl who spent 10 days at Burnaby General Hospital going through multiple tests.
She had been stuck overseas with her family after the global pandemic was declared, a highly reliable source said. She returned towards the end of May. But went to hospital on June 6. She was finally discharged after a 10-day ordeal.
Her diagnosis is still awaited but the case illustrates that children can fall seriously ill with Covid-19 related complications.
The BC government has not released data on MIS-C cases but has admitted there have been a few. Other provincial authorities have released figures, including Alberta.