COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina health officials reported the state’s first death Friday from a pediatric inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19.
The 17-year-old from Upstate region died Wednesday from Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, a potentially serious disease sometimes called MIS-C, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
“It’s heartbreaking to have to report the death of such a young person,” said DHEC State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell. “Our condolences go out to the family and to the many families that have suffered loss related to COVID-19.”
Officials said at least 42 cases of MIS-C have been reported among children in South Carolina. The rare illness occurs in some children and teenagers who have contracted COVID-19 or been in contact with someone infected with the virus, the health department said.
About 1,600 cases and 26 deaths associated with MIS-C have been identified across the country as of early January, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health experts said the recent surge in coronavirus cases across the state could lead to more MIS-C cases.
The state announced its first confirmed cases of the illness in July. Its symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, and feeling tired. Most children with MIS-C recover, the health department noted.
Dr. Anna Kathryn Burch, an infectious disease pediatrician with Prisma Health, said Friday that the majority of of children who get COVID-19 do not have MIS-C. However, she reminded parents that children who may be asymptomatic for COVID-19 could still develop the inflammatory syndrome.
Also Friday, health officials said they were launching a new COVID-19 vaccine information line, with 240 phone operators available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily. Operators will answer questions about the vaccine and help people find contact information for vaccine providers.
“Many in South Carolina don’t have access to the internet, so offering a dedicated vaccine phone line to help them locate contact information for vaccine providers is essential,” said Nick Davidson, DHEC Deputy of Public Health, in a statement. People can reach the information line at 1-866-365-8110.