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2 cases of rare child illness linked to COVID-19 reported in Washington

Two cases of a rare child illness linked to COVID-19 were reported in western Washington. Both patients received treatment at Seattle Children’s.

SEATTLE — The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed two cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19 in western Washington.

One child lives in Snohomish County and the other lives in King County. One patient is under the age of 10, and the other is between 10 and 19 years old, the DOH said. Both patients were treated at Seattle Children's hospital.

These are the only cases of MIS-C reported so far in Washington state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. It is unclear what causes MIS-C, but many children with symptoms were previously diagnosed with coronavirus or have been around someone diagnosed with coronavirus.

RELATED: Teen in Seattle ICU for rare illness linked to coronavirus

The syndrome bears a resemblance to a rare illness called Kawasaki disease.

“In Washington, we are tracking this issue closely and working with local health departments and providers to learn more,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, health officer for the state Department of Health. “Early last week we asked all health care providers in the state to be on the lookout and immediately report possible cases to local health authorities.”

Health care workers in the United Kingdom were the first to recognize cases, and other states have reported cases of the illness as well. The illness took the lives of at least two children in New York including a 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy, as well as an 18-year-old woman.

While MIS-C can be deadly, most children diagnosed have recovered.

“While the vast majority of children appear to have a mild or asymptomatic infection, it’s important to remember that—although rare—some children can develop serious complications like these,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. “Our thoughts are with the young patient, their family, and the care team at Seattle Children’s, and we wish for a speedy recovery.”

RELATED: CDC alerts doctors to childhood coronavirus-related syndrome

The DOH said current case definition for MIS-C includes:

  • Under the age of 21, with a fever, laboratory evidence of inflammation, and severe illness involving more than two organs that requires hospitalization; AND
  • No other plausible diagnoses; AND
  • Positive COVID-19 test, or exposure to a confirmed case, within the four weeks prior to the onset of symptoms.

“Both these illnesses, the COVID-related illness as well as the Kawasaki disease are some sort of inflammatory illness. And we know that Kawasaki Disease, there’s some sort of environmental trigger. It might be a virus, and it causes a hyperimmune response in children,” said Dr. Michael Portman, a cardiologist at Seattle Children’s and director of the Kawasaki Disease Clinic.

Portman said this illness is still very rare but it’s important to look out for the signs and symptoms.

“If their child has persistent fever for four or five days, they should not assume that it’s just the COVID or another virus and it’s going to go away,” he explained. “Fever persistence for five days, especially if it includes any of those symptoms, needs to be evaluated so we can make sure that nothing more serious is going on.”

The CDC sent an alert last week about the inflammatory syndrome to thousands of physicians and other clinics across the country.

VIEW: Coronavirus coverage from KING