Doctors and parents are warning about an alarming increase in an inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 cases in children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's been diagnosed in more than 2,000 children in 48 states and resulted in the deaths of at least 30.
When Burke White's entire family contracted COVID-19, his 5-year-old daughter seemed to have the mildest case.
But a month later she developed a fever and stomach pain.
“They tested her for everything -- flu, strep, COVID again -- did all those tests, they all came back negative," White said.
After those tests, their quick-thinking pediatrician sent them to the emergency room, correctly suspecting it was MIS-C, a rare inflammatory syndrome tied to COVID-19 cases in children.
"It's definitely something that was a complete shock to us and not something we were even looking for," White said.
MIS-C usually develops four to six weeks after COVID-19 exposure, and health experts are seeing a rise in cases following the post-holiday COVID-19 surge.
"The last half of January and the first week of February, we were evaluating children and teenagers with suspected MIIS-C very frequently -- on an almost daily basis," said Dr. Leigh Howard of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The next few weeks, experts say, could be critical, and urge parents to watch for symptoms like a rash, gastrointestinal distress or high fever. Other symptoms can include neck pain, bloodshot eyes and swollen hands and feet. The long-term effects are not yet known.
"MIS-C is certainly showing us that we really can't let our guard down yet," Dr. Howard said.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the majority of cases have occurred in children ages one to 14.
If caught and treated early, MIS-C patients generally recover, like Burke White's daughter did. She spent a week in the hospital, and is continuing treatment for heart inflammation.
"We're in a much better place than we were. But just the unknown about all this is very daunting,"