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6-year-old Eagle River boy spent 10 days in ICU with serious COVID-19 complication

Cameron Dye, 6, from Eagle River ended up in the intensive care unit with MIS-C.
Cameron Dye, 6, from Eagle River ended up in the intensive care unit with MIS-C.(Courtesy of Jerry Heath Dye)
Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 4:26 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An Eagle River family spent 10 days in an intensive care unit, including Christmas Day, while their 6-year-old son battled a syndrome that presents in some children who have had COVID-19.

All four members of the Dye family tested positive for COVID-19 in November, parents Jerry “Heath” Dye and Hailey Dye said. The Dye children, 2-year-old Lucas and 6-year-old Cameron, barely had any symptoms while Heath Dye and Hailey Dye said they were exhausted.

“The COVID part wasn’t all that bad for us. It seemed like we had the most common symptoms that you hear about and stuff like that. It was more four weeks after — when we — when Cameron got sick and things changed drastically,” Heath Dye said.

In December, Cameron Dye was running a 104.5-degree fever. A large rash started to spread from his ankles up his entire body. The family took him to urgent care, which treated him for strep throat and scarlet fever. The treatment didn’t relieve his symptoms, and in a few days, he was admitted to the ICU at the Children’s Hospital at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

He had congestive heart failure and fluid in his lungs. The doctors said Cameron Dye had multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a new condition that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says comes with inflammation of the major organs in some children four to eight weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Before MIS-C, Cameron Dye was a hyperactive, outgoing, happy child, his parents said.

Cameron Dye was hospitalized with a serious complication of COVID-19 that presents mostly in...
Cameron Dye was hospitalized with a serious complication of COVID-19 that presents mostly in school-age children.(Courtesy of Jerry Heath Dye)

“He used to have so much energy and right now he does not,” Hailey Dye said. “And given everything he’s been through it’s understandable, but it’s very different to see him very tired and not being able to do some of the things he used to. We have faith he will be one day, but it’s going to be a long road to recovery.”

Cameron Dye was released from the ICU on Dec. 29 after being intubated for several days and receiving intravenous immune globulin therapy and high dose steroids, Hailey Dye said. Even though he’s no longer hospitalized, Cameron Dye still struggles with walking and will need cardiology, neurology and endocrinology follow-ups.

The long-term effects of MIS-C are unclear as the syndrome was first recorded in 2020.

“It was literally the worst experience that we have gone through in our entire lives. Like most adults won’t ever go through what Cameron went through,” Heath Dye said. “I know it was horrible for him, but being on the side of it as a parent and watching him go through it was awful. It was the worst thing that we’ve ever experienced.”

Clinton Bennett, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services, said six cases of MIS-C have been reported to the CDC for Alaska since monitoring for the condition began in May.

Anchorage-based Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Benjamin Westley estimates there have been at least half a dozen MIS-C cases in Anchorage since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“It’s uncommon but it’s not so rare that most communities wouldn’t be seeing it right now,” Westley said. “There is so much COVID-19 that even if this happened in only one out of a thousand kids that got it, you would still see cases pretty regularly right now.”

Most children will recover from MIS-C, Westley said, but if the child is left untreated after five to seven days of illness, MIS-C “can be quite dangerous.”

Westley recommends parents of children who had COVID-19 in the previous four to eight weeks should seek care from a physician if their child has a high fever that lasts for 24 to 48 hours.

It’s unclear why some children have MIS-C, but the majority of cases are reported in grade school-age children. Common signs of MIS-C are vomiting, stomach pain or high fever, Westley said.

“If you have a gut feeling, which we did, that something wasn’t right, just advocate for your kid,” Heath Dye said. “Don’t let them turn you away or misdiagnose if you feel that the diagnosis isn’t correct. Just advocate for your kids.”

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