An eight-year-old boy is recovering at Rady Children’s Hospital from a rare syndrome associated with COVID-19. Doctors say he was afflicted after being exposed to COVID-19 through his unvaccinated parents.
“The key part to the story was that his parents had had COVID-19 about a month before, and that’s typical of this illness,” said Dr. Adriana Tremoulet, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital.
Tremoulet says Eduardo Cortes was afflicted with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome or MISC, a rare condition that has affected about 4,000 children since April 2020. There have been 80 cases diagnosed in San Diego.
MISC typically impacts children between ages 8 and 14. Different parts of the body become inflamed, including the heart and lungs.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
“Kids are coming in with fever, they develop a rash, red eyes, some neck pain and swelling of the neck, they get severe abdominal pain as well," said Tremoulet.
Eduardo was taken to the hospital last Saturday after his parents reported a fever and temperature of 106.1.
“I thought it was just like a fever, a normal fever, but everything was increasing more and more and more,” said Leo Cortes, Eduardo's dad.
Doctors say MISC usually impacts a child two to six weeks after being exposed to COVID-19. In this case, Rosa Cortes, Eduardo’s mother, tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 2.
While she said she had been vaccinated with a first shot several days prior to contracting the virus, both parents said they had been hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
“It’s because, we didn’t think that, this is not going to happen to us, it was just that. Now, we understand that this is the wrong decision that we took,” said Cortes.
Cortes is still not vaccinated, having been told to wait now that his son is hospitalized.
The two parents met with reporters outside of the hospital on Friday to share their personal story and to send a message to other parents.
“It is really hard. Really, really hard. It already happened to me and I don’t want it to happen to anybody else, especially for the kids. That’s my message, get the vaccine right now,” said Cortes.
Right now, doctors do not know why some kids are susceptible to MISC, while others are not.
Eduardo has two siblings, aged 6 and 11. Both are fine.
“We think there may be some genetic predisposition, there may be complex genetics, and that’s why certain kids get it, and their siblings do not, but we yet don’t know,” said Tremoulet.
Children with MISC are treated with anti-inflammatory medications, and also steroids and medicines. Most are hospitalized between five and seven days.
Eduardo should be able to return home in several days.
“I feel really lucky today because thanks to the doctors, he’s doing really well right now,” said Cortes.
“I would love to say go get vaccinated, and that’s what I would love for people to do, but I understand there’s a lot of hesitancy and so it’s really about talking to your provider, family members, encouraging everybody to get vaccinated and to really dispel all the myths that are out there about getting vaccinated for Covid,” said Tremoulet.
Currently, the National Institutes of Health is conducting a study looking into the long-term effects of MISC.