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What Is MIS-C? WYSO Talks To A Local Pediatrician

Dayton Dayton Children's Hospital, where MIS-C cases are being treated in the Miami Valley
Dayton Children's Hospital
Dayton Children's Hospital, where MIS-C cases are being treated in the Miami Valley

There are now two confirmed cases of MIS-C, or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, here in the Miami Valley. One of the cases is a patient of local pediatrician Dr. David Roer, who is with Pediatric Associates of Dayton and is a Centerville Board of Education member. Dr. Roer talked with WYSO Reporter Chris Welter about this rare disease, and how the number of cases may increase as kids go back to school.

Chris Welter: What exactly is MIS-C?

Dr. Roer: It's an inflammatory syndrome they  think is caused by the COVID-19 virus. Typically the kids are either asymptomatic or had a little bit of symptoms, then a few weeks later, they sort of develop this fatigue and illness, and some get a rash. They just basically go into sort of possible kidney failure, some heart failure.

Chris Welter: Why does it happen to young people?

Dr. Roer: They absolutely have no idea. We tend to see a little bit less of the COVID-19 symptoms in the younger population. Yet, the older ones get sick, they pass away, they die. Yet in the younger ones, they have this immunologic reaction. But absolutely no one knows why at this point.

Chris Welter: What is the age range of the kids that have had this?

Dr. Roer: They tend to be young. My case was two months old, which is the youngest that I know of. But it could go all the way up to six, seven, eight, nine, ten, early childhood.

Chris Welter: What is the prevalence of this, is it more rare than COVID?

Dr. Roer: 100 percent. Yes, it’s definitely very rare. What we don’t know is whether or not we’re going to start to see more of this as the children are starting to show more positive tests. I mean, the number of children we’re seeing now that are testing positive for COVID is going up. Everyone talks about how “Well they are not as sick. They do OK. They recover quickly.” But we’re definitely starting to see more and more of it, especially the last two or three or four weeks here in the Miami Valley.

Chris Welter: How are you treating kids that come down with it?

Dr. Roer: All these kids typically end up in the hospital because they can go into kidney failure, lung failure, heart failure. A lot of times they’ll do what we call immunoglobulin therapy, they’ll give them some steroids. So it just depends on the severity of these kids and their age and how they’re responding. Some end up on a respirator. Some can pass away from this. So it’s a very serious complication.

Chris Welter: Do the kids who are getting this have pre-existing conditions?

Dr. Roer: These are kids typically that have no pre-existing conditions. So it’s not the kids that have underlying asthma, diabetes or anything. These are pretty normal, well, healthy children that just basically get this disease.

Chris Welter: What can parents do to make sure their kids stay healthy, especially with the school year coming up?

Dr. Roer: The CDC guidelines are the best things to follow. Number one is do your best to space six feet apart from any one. Wear masks, which we know definitely help and just good handwashing and the Purell hand things when you’re out and about. The keys are masks and social distancing. The recommendations for the masks really are anyone two and above at this point. There  are only a couple of reasons not to wear a mask. One is if you’re under two. Number two is if you don’t have the physical ability to remove your own mask if you have some disability. If there’s really some structural abnormality in terms of your respiratory system where you just can’t wear a mask because it may obstruct and cause problems, but those are really the only things. So as we’re starting to see school opening up, we’re probably going to be starting to see more and more parents request: I don’t want my child to have a mask, or my child has asthma or my child has diabetes. Well, those are really not valid, good reasons to not wear a mask. If anything, those are even better reasons that they should wear a mask. So as pediatricians, we’re going to really focus on not just giving excuses for parents to take to the school to say, my child needs to be exempt from wearing a mask. So it’s going to be a very strict criteria that we’re going to try to use and stick with.

Chris Welter: Do you anticipate an increase in the number of cases as kids go back to school?

Dr. Roer: Absolutely. We’ll definitely see an increase in this. There’s no doubt about it. Now, one of the other things I do is I’ve been on the Centerville school board for 27 years now. And so we’ve been working on the policy and how to bring kids back with the desire to bring them back, but bringing them back in a very safe way to protect them and protect the staff and the administrators and everyone at the school. So we will definitely be seeing an increase. There’s no doubt. When you put them all back together, they’re going to be in a room where there’s 12 children in the room or some schools are going with everyone coming back and having 20 kids in a room. It’s going to happen. There’s no doubt.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.