(CBS News) — A California girl is on the mend after nearly losing her life to a condition being linked to COVID-19 in children. The rare inflammatory syndrome has sickened hundreds of children across the country, and doctors say parents need to know the warning signs.
Rosa Vasquez cherishes every moment with her daughter after nearly losing her.
“For sure I knew she was gonna die. You know, that’s how I felt,” Vasquez says.
9-year-old Xitlali fell ill in May with an unrelenting high fever. She ended up in the pediatric ICU at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and her condition worsened.
“There was a time that she wouldn’t open her eyes anymore. Her eyes were as red as a tomato,” according to Vasquez.
Antibody testing showed Xitlali had been exposed to COVID-19. Doctors determined she was suffering from Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C, a rare but serious condition associated with coronavirus that causes body parts and organs to become inflamed.
“She couldn’t breathe,” Vasquez says. “And there was a time that everybody came running because her heart had stopped.”
The CDC has reported 570 cases of MIS-C and 10 deaths nationwide since the pandemic started.
The Florida Department of Health reported 50 confirmed cases of children with MIS-C as of Aug. 26, an increase of 20 new cases in the last two weeks.
Most children develop the condition two to four weeks after a COVID-19 infection. According to the CDC, more than 70% of MIS-C cases have occurred among Hispanic and Latino children or Black children.
Dr. Jacqueline Szmuszkovicz, a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, says “We are still learning, continually and every day, more and more about this virus, especially how it may affect our children.”
Dr. Szmuszkovicz says parents need to be aware of the warning signs which include high fever, rash, red eyes, lips and tongue, and stomach pains.
“No one knows your child better than you do,” Dr. Szmuszkovicz says. “If you feel your child looks very ill and has a high fever, I really strongly encourage you to reach out to your pediatrician.”
Now back home, Xitlali has this message for the doctors and nurses who helped her: “Thank you very much because without them, I wouldn’t, I might have not survived.”
She hopes other families take precautions to keep safe from the virus.