Some States Seeing More Severe Cases Of MIS-C, Rare Illness Linked To COVID-19 In Children

A rare illness linked to COVID-19 is reappearing in children this winter. In many cases, this illness is more severe than what doctors treated during the first wave in the spring, but CBS2's Hazel Sanchez found that doesn't hold true state to state.

Video Transcript

- A rare illness linked to COVID-19 is reappearing in children this winter. And in many cases, this illness is more severe than what doctors treated during the first wave of the coronavirus in the spring. But CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez found that that doesn't hold true state to state.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: 13-year-old Alana Tucker of Newark, New Jersey is back to being a typical teenager. But she had a frightening health scare in May when she was hospitalized with COVID-19, then developed a rare condition: multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome in children, also known as MIS-C.

ALANA TUCKER: It felt terrible. I felt like I couldn't make it.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: The illness generally appears in young patients weeks after they're infected with the coronavirus. Symptoms like fever, rash, that could escalate to heart dysfunction and could prove fatal. Now, doctors across the country, including Dr. Sivia Lapidus at Hackensack University Medical Center are seeing more severe cases of MIS-C compared to last spring.

SIVIA LAPIDUS: We have seen more critically ill patients with MIS-C overall. We have seen-- we have needed to use more aggressive therapy.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: But it's a different story across the Hudson River at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, where Dr. Steve Kernie specializes in pediatric critical care.

STEVE KERNIE: We're not seeing big surges in New York. Not surprisingly, we are seeing a few more cases than we saw a few months ago, but it is treatable. The cases we're seeing are not terribly severe, and by and large, the kids do very well.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: Dr. Lapidus believes the difference may be the strict COVID-19 restrictions in the city, where mask wearing is more prevalent. Masks not only prevent transmission, but also reduce the viral load.

SIVIA LAPIDUS: The kids who do have multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, frequently there's a lot of COVID in the family. They were exposed to it. Maybe they had multiple family members with it. Maybe they were with a prolonged period of time without masks. And I wonder if that's happening more in New Jersey.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: Until more research is done, doctors say the best way to prevent MIS-C is to protect against COVID-19. Hazel Sanchez, CBS 2 News.