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Concerns rise about delta variant after COVID kills child in CSRA

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 12:29 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Child deaths from COVID are tragic but not common.

That tragedy hit the CSRA this week with the first known child death here due to coronavirus.

We know the child is under 18, but that’s all we know so far.

We found 15 kids have died in South Carolina since the start of the pandemic and 15 mote in Georgia. Compared to the 29,167 adults who have died across the two-state region, it’s obvious who’s at greater risk. But since experts are learning about the delta variant in real-time, we don’t fully know how serious this could become for our kids.

It’s difficult for our doctors looking at long-term effects in the new and aggressive delta variant. They are learning more about the strain and what’s to come down the road for those infected every day.

Nine kids are in the Children’s Hospital of Georgia for COVID-19 right now, more than Dr. Jacob Eichenberger has ever treated at one time throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve got the kids so sick that they end up on heart lung bypass waiting for their body to recover from COVID and for their heart and lungs to take over again, we have kids on ventilators, we have kids just needed extra oxygen, we have kids needing to be put on their belly to breathe instead of their back,” he said.

But as concerning as their caseload is right now, he’s even more worried about what is to come.

“Our fear is we are early in this and we know MISC presents weeks to months after,” he said.

MISC or multisystem inflammatory syndrome, severely inflames vital organs like your heart, lungs, kidneys and brain weeks to months after COVID infection.

“These come in much sicker than your average COVID respiratory infection. They present like a severely ill kid sometimes requiring ICU stay and we don’t know who or why it’s happening,” he said.

Officials at Children’s Hospital of Georgia say they’ve had patients diagnosed with MISC weeks after an asymptomatic COVID case. And with the number of kids locally contracting COVID at much higher rates than before, doctors are bracing for what could come with MISC in a month or so.

And MISC is affecting perfectly healthy kids who handled COVID well. But it’s still just one of the long-term effects. Some kids are experiencing long COVID, where symptoms last much longer than the two weeks of infection. Others have a relapse of symptoms months down the line with fatigue, brain fog, and muscle pain.

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