A northwest Indiana couple is speaking out after their 5-year-old daughter was diagnosed with the rare inflammatory condition that has been linked to COVID-19 cases in children.
Over the course of five days, Advocate Health Care said Oshunda and Johnathan Johnson of Portage, Indiana, watched as their daughter Janiya, who is normally extroverted and silly, got "sicker and sicker."
"She's pretty much the life of the family," Johnathan Johnson said. "She's the party folk."
The parents said Janiya was vomiting, feverish and exhausted as she experienced stomach pain and refused to eat.
Advocate Health said the couple took Janiya to the doctor and urgent care multiple times but it wasn't until St. Mary's Hospital in Hobart did blood work that they realized her kidneys and liver were failing.
Janiya was then admitted in critical condition to Advocate Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn, where she was diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, also known as MIS-C.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says MIS-C is condition related to COVID-19 where children's organs or body parts can become inflamed, like the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.
Since the CDC began tracking reports of MIS-C in May 2020, the U.S. has seen 2,060 cases in 48 states, with additional potential cases under investigation, as well as 30 deaths nationwide.
Cases have occurred in children and adolescents from less than a year old to 20 years old, the CDC says, noting that most cases have occurred in children between the ages of 1 to 14, with a median age of 9. Around 69% of cases have been reported in children who are Hispanic or Latino or Black, officials say, and 58% of cases reported were in male children.
Janiya was in the pediatric intensive care unit for four days before making her recovery, Advocate Health said. Her mother Oshunda wants to share "wherever she can about the scare the family faced so that no other parents have to watch their child deteriorate so quickly without answers."
"The thought of knowing that, hey, if I would have waited one more day, I wouldn't be sitting here right now talking to you guys," she told NBC 5 Monday. "It's really scary."
Advocate's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Frank Belmonte said in a statement that he wants parents to know the facts about MIS-C so that children can be more quickly diagnosed.
When it comes to MIS-C, children either have had COVID-19, sometimes without symptoms, or were exposed to someone with it, experts say, noting that the illness can present weeks after COVID-19 exposure.
Symptoms include a fever, and problems in at least two organs, often including the heart. Digestive problems are common and some cases have been mistaken with Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.