24 Idaho children have experienced rare COVID-19 syndrome. Here’s what we know about them

Posted at 3:07 PM, May 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-09 17:07:21-04

This article was originally written by Nicole Foy for the Idaho Statesman.

New data from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare shows that roughly a quarter of Idaho children diagnosed with a rare and sometimes fatal COVID-19 syndrome were Hispanic.

Idaho health officials have only recorded 24 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. The rare illness appeared in the U.S. a few months after the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. It appears to be a delayed reaction to the coronavirus and can show up weeks after exposure. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, vomiting, skin rash, diarrhea and low blood pressure.

The average age of Idaho children diagnosed with MIS-C is 8.9 years, according to Health and Welfare.

Health officials don’t know the ethnicity for 8% of the state’s MIS-C cases, about one or two children, according to Health and Welfare data obtained by the Idaho Statesman. About 25%, or six children, were Hispanic or Latino and at least 16 children, or 67%, were white.

Latinos are just 13% of Idaho’s population and have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Nationwide, the CDC estimates about 63% of MIS-C cases have occurred in Hispanic or Black children.

The Health and Welfare data also show that Central District Health, which covers Ada, Valley, Elmore and Boise counties, had the most cases, identifying at least eight children with the syndrome. South Central Public Health in the Magic Valley had six cases, Southwest District Health had five cases and Eastern Idaho Public Health and Southeastern Idaho Public Health District had two cases each. North Idaho’s two health districts didn’t report any MIS-C cases, according to Health and Welfare.

All Idaho children previously diagnosed with MIS-C have recovered and are no longer in the hospital, according to Health and Welfare. About 42% of Idaho children diagnosed with the syndrome had to stay in the ICU.

Although the dangerous and sometimes deadly syndrome caused at least one Idaho child to be airlifted out of state for a heart transplant, Idaho’s MIS-C case count is much lower than nearby states like Washington (47 cases)and California (more than 300 cases). Data from the CDC reports 3,185 MIS-C cases as of March 29, when the data was last updated. At least 36 children diagnosed with MIS-C have died.