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'We don't know which children will develop MIS-C' | Jacksonville family shares their battle with MIS-C after Covid-19

7-year-old Cleo was the picture of health. She contracted a mild case of COVID-19 in October, but recovered. Then weeks later she got sick again. Very sick.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Cleo Robinson kept a journal after she was released from the hospital.

"Hello everyone, can you play with me?," reads the 7-year-old from her journal.  

Cleo is young, but she has quite the story to tell.

Her mother, Katie Robinson, says Cleo was the picture of health.

"She hadn’t missed a day of school in kindergarten, the healthiest child," describes Mrs. Robinson. 

Then in early October the Robinson family came down with Covid, but Cleo’s symptoms were mild and she recovered within a few days. Then, about three and a half weeks later, Cleo got sick again. Very sick.

"They tested her for strep and she had a positive strep test," explains her mother. 

But the medicine Cleo was given didn’t seem to help, her temperature spiked to 105 degrees and her vomiting got worse. She was then taken to Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

"Her temperature hit 107 degrees in the hospital and her vitals got to very scary lows," says Mrs. Robinson. 

Cleo's heart was also struggling, she was moved into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit [PICU] at Wolfson and diagnosed with MIS-C, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.  A condition that can occur in children after a Covid infection.

"The problem is we don’t know which children will develop MIS-C," explains Dr. Thomas Nakagawa, the director of the PICU at Wolfson Children's Hospital, "We’ve seen over 100 cases of MIS-C since the start of the pandemic." 

Nationwide, he says there have been around 6,000 cases of MIS-C reported to the CDC since the beginning of the pandemic.  With MIS-C, symptoms begin usually four to six weeks after the initial Covid infection.

According to the CDC, the child will have an ongoing fever plus one or more of the following:

-Stomach pain

-Vomiting or diarrhea

-Dizziness

-Skin rash

-Blood shot eyes

The more serious cases could lead to lung or heart problems.  A condition Katie Robinson says was even more scary because the family had never heard of it before.

"I didn’t know MIS-C, I didn’t know anyone who had had it," she says with tears in her eyes," In the PICU I was basically staying up all night watching her vitals."

 After six days, Cleo began to improve. Her parents want others to know about MIS-C and its warning signs.

"So just knowing what is out there, it does happen and it is real," tells Mrs. Robinson.

 They also want to encourage parents to consider vaccinations. While Cleo was hospitalized, vaccines for the 5-11 age group were approved. Dr. Nakagawa says it appears the vaccines are having an impact on the numbers of MIS-C cases.

"That immunization may have some protective effect so, number one these kids don’t get sick or it may actually have some effect on the overall development of MIS-C four to six weeks later," he explains.

He believes the Covid-19 vaccine for children is one of the best protective measures available for children against Covid and MIS-C

"I like to think about it like an airbag or a seat belt, it lessens injury, it lessens trauma," he explains," In this case, that vaccination can prevent or potentially reduce that infection which becomes very important."

 For the Robinson family, the best gift this Christmas season is having their Cleo home and healthy again.

"She was so brave," tells Mrs. Robinson giving her daughter a hug," She was amazing."