A Northern Virginia child has become the first in the state to die of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare complication of COVID-19 that causes the body’s organs to become damaged.
The Virginia Department of Health described the victim as a child between the ages of 10 and 19 who lived in the Prince William Health District. The announcement Friday said no other information would be released out of respect for he family and to protect privacy.
The child was the 16th person younger than 20 years old to die of COVID in Virginia since the pandemic began.
“We are devastated by this sad news, and our hearts go out to the family and friends of this child,” Dr. Norman Oliver, Virginia Health Commissioner, said in a statement.
MIS-C is a syndrome — a group of signs and symptoms, not a disease — linked to COVID. While most children who contract COVID experience only mild illness, those who develop MIS-C can experience inflammation of the heart, lungs, blood vessels, or other organs.
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Symptoms of MIS-C include a fever that doesn’t break, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing, stomach pain, skin rash and more.
Doctors don’t know why some children develop the condition and others don’t. Some children have it despite no longer having an active COVID infection. There have been 111 occurrences of MIS-C in the state out of 144,000 COVID cases in youths, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
More Black and Latino children have been diagnosed with the syndrome in the U.S., according to the Mayo Clinic.
COVID cases in Virginia have flattened recently after increasing the first two weeks of November. There was a seven-day average of 1,369 cases across the state last week.
“COVID-19 continues to cause illness, hospitalizations and deaths across Virginia and the U.S.,” Oliver said. “As we enter a time of year when families are traveling and gathering for holidays, we urge all Virginians to take steps to protect themselves and their families. Please get vaccinated if you are eligible.”