First death from MIS-C reported in Wisconsin

There have been 183 cases of the rare inflammatory condition in Wisconsin

An empty hospital bed is seen through a doorway.
Light shines in to an empty ICU room Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, at Meriter Hospital in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

A child in southeastern Wisconsin has died from a rare inflammatory condition associated with COVID-19, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Friday. It’s the first reported death in the state from what’s known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C.

The child lived in southeast Wisconsin and was under 10 years old, according to DHS officials. No further details were given to protect the family’s privacy.

Officials are still trying to determine if the child was vaccinated against COVID-19.

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State Health Officer Paula Tran urged Wisconsinites to continue to take safety precautions like wearing a mask and getting vaccinated if you’re eligible. People ages 5 and up are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are saddened to report that a child has passed away from MIS-C,” Tran said in the statement. “Although COVID-19 cases are declining throughout the state, we are still seeing very high levels of disease transmission in all 72 counties.”

Wisconsin has reported 183 cases of MIS-C since the pandemic began, and American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison has seen cases increase during the omicron wave. That variant is more contagious than previous strains.

“So, we’re still kind of at the tail end of that for the next few weeks here, but we definitely did see a bump in hospitalizations over the last couple of months,” said UW Health pediatrician Dr. Greg Demuri. The hospital has treated more than 30 cases of MIS-C, he said.

The condition can affect the heart, lungs and other organs. Most cases of MIS-C occur in children ages 3 to 12 years old exposed to COVID-19. MIS-C was first identified in April 2020. Doctors don’t yet know what causes the condition, but many of those affected either had COVID-19 or had been around someone who was infected with the virus. State health officials want parents to be aware of the condition but not be alarmed.

“We don’t want them to panic and have every little sniffle associated with MIS-C,” said Thomas Haupt, a research scientist with DHS during a media briefing Friday.

So far, children have been less likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 compared to adults. And while pediatric deaths are rare, they do happen. State data shows two under age 10 dying from the disease and eight COVID-19 fatalities in older children since the pandemic began. Other children develop MIS-C.

Symptoms of MIS-C include lingering fever, trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure that does not go away, confusion, inability to wake up or stay awake, bluish lips or face, or severe abdominal pain. State health officials urge parents of children with these symptoms to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

DHS recommends:

  • Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19 isolate from others, including those in their household, and wear a well-fitting mask around others for five days after their isolation period.
  • Those who have COVID-19 should notify close contacts.
  • Close contacts who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines should stay home and quarantine for five days. Close contacts who are up to date with their vaccinations do not need to quarantine. However, all close contacts, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a well-fitting mask when around others for 10 full days after exposure.
  • Everyone ages 2 and older should wear a well-fitting mask in public indoor settings, regardless of their vaccination or exposure status.