OSWEGO, IL — The week of Halloween, more than 107,000 pediatric cases of COVID-19 were reported. Health officials are preparing for an increase in the number of cases and a possible deadly post-COVID complication. This condition, which can lead to damage of vital organs, usually develops weeks after infection.
Paige Bendersky’s family had been taking every precaution during the pandemic. The 7-year-old hadn’t tested positive for coronavirus but something was wrong.
“I felt sick, and I only would eat hot dogs,” said Paige.
With a 104 temperature, lethargy and a headache, Paige’s mom was getting concerned.
“She had a temp, and it wasn’t going down. Then I noticed that she wasn’t eating. She wasn’t drinking,” said Paige’s mother, Alyssa Bendersky.
Paige was brought to the hospital via ambulance, and then taken to the intensive care unit.
“Her blood pressure started to drop and so, they had to put a central line in in order to start the treatment,” said Bendersky.
Paige was diagnosed in the multisystem inflammatory disorder, or MIS–C. This rare complication of COVID-19 mostly affects school-aged children.
“She was tested; came out negative every time,” said Bendersky. “I didn’t even think about COVID at that point. I just thought it might be pneumonia.’”
Dr. Latania Logan, the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Rush University Medical Center, says it’s not uncommon for children to have MIS-C following an asymptomatic and undetected case of COVID, as was the case with Paige.
“They didn’t know she had COVID. She then develops this severe inflammatory response weeks later. And the only reason we know is because she has antibodies against COVID infection,” said Dr. Logan.
Symptoms of MISC can appear several weeks after a COVID infection. It can cause inflammation in your heart, lungs or kidneys.
“Some of these children are actually in shock when we see them,” said Dr. Logan. “And so, we have to give them treatment based on whatever is the dysfunction of their organs.”
Numerous state officials have stated that they anticipate a rise in MIS-C cases over the next few months.
“We know when there’s going to be a wave of COVID, we can expect about four to six weeks later we’re going to see a wave of MIS-C. And that’s again what happened with this delta wave,” said Dr. Logan.
As of November 1, the CDC had reported 5,526 confirmed cases of MISC in pediatrics and 48 deaths across the country. The median age of affected children was 9 years.
Symptoms of MIS–C can include nausea, fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
Untreated, the condition can be deadly or have long-lasting effects on the heart, which is why experts say it’s important to quickly recognize the symptoms and seek treatment.
“I just remember just crying, you know, and just praying that she would make it,” recalled Bendersky.
Paige made it. She and Cooper got vaccinated as soon she was eligible.
“I saw firsthand what COVID is and what it could do,” said Bendersky. “And if getting vaccinated means that we could get back to normal, then why aren’t we going to do that?”
The second-grader is back in karate and gymnastics with occasional visits to the cardiologist.