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15-year-old Baltimore County girl dies after testing positive for coronavirus, the first pediatric death

A Baltimore County teen has died after being infected with the coronavirus, marking what officials say is the county’s first pediatric death associated with the virus.

A family member confirmed this week that 15-year-old Dar’yana Dyson died Saturday at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

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County officials, who did not identify the teenager, said the victim was showing symptoms of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, an “inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 infection that has been documented in children in New York and other locations."

Family members declined to comment further Tuesday.

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“Any loss of life from this virus is tragic, but the loss of a child is devastating," County Executive Johnny Olszewski said in a news release. "Our prayers are with the family and loved ones of this young person. This is a stark reminder that this virus spares no one, and that we all must remain vigilant in our efforts to stay home, socially distance, and limit the spread of this deadly disease.”

Maryland Department of Health officials confirmed the teen’s death is the state’s first fatality attributed to the inflammatory syndrome. Three additional cases in Maryland also have met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for MIS-C, health department spokesman Charles Gischlar said in an email.

Gischlar said the situation is “evolving” and that state health officials are working with federal and regional health departments to identify any additional cases of MIS-C in Maryland.

MIS-C is believed to be rare, with pediatric patients presenting symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, according to a national health alert issued last week by the CDC.

However, medical experts the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center say much of the information on MIS-C is still speculative in the absence of research.

“This is a newly recognized syndrome, which is severe but uncommon,” said Kwang Sik Kim, a medical doctor and director of Hopkins’ division for pediatric infectious diseases.

The syndrome mimics some symptoms of Kawasaki disease, which tends to appear in children under the age of 5 as a fever, rash, reddened eyes, swollen tonsils and cracked lips.

In the last month, some doctors have reported treating children over the age of 5 for Kawasaki who also were presenting symptoms not commonly associated with disease, such as shock or hypotension, Kim said.

Some of those children have since tested positive for antibodies associated with SARS-COVID-2, the specific coronavirus associated with the COVID-19 disease, though the connection is still unclear, he said.

Kim recommends that parents monitor children who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 for at least four weeks, especially those over the age of 5.

“You just have to watch out if your child continues to have a fever and signs of inflammation," Kim said. “Does the kid look sick compared to normal or complain about abdominal pain, and there’s a fever? I’d definitely seek a pediatrician to ask if these are signs of this syndrome.”

More than 4,900 Baltimore County residents have contracted the COVID-19 virus, with 247 confirmed deaths and an additional 16 deaths believed to be virus-related, officials said.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic is real, it is here, and it is lethal,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, the Baltimore County health officer. “Our children and our most vulnerable residents need all of us to do our part to safeguard them from this unrelenting adversary.”

County residents are encouraged to stay home whenever possible and to wear masks or face coverings in public places and continue to maintain six feet of distance from other people.

Baltimore Sun reporter Wilborn P. Nobles III contributed to this article.

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