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Louisiana teen who died from virus had heart inflammation associated with COVID-19

4 years 1 month 1 week ago Thursday, June 11 2020 Jun 11, 2020 June 11, 2020 6:36 AM June 11, 2020 in News
Source: The Advocate
Jaquan Cartez Anderson

NEW ORLEANS - Jaquan Anderson was only 17 years old when he succumbed to novel coronavirus and now, the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office says Anderson's tragic death was associated with heart inflammation triggered by COVID-19. 

According to The Advocate, Anderson was the first child in Louisiana to succumb to the virus.

He tested positive for COVID-19 when he died on March 22. But coroner’s office spokesman Jason Melancon said his agency needed to perform more testing to identify the boy’s cause and manner of death.

By Wednesday, Melancon said, his office had determined Anderson died from a condition known as “lymphohistiocytic and eosinophilic myocarditis,” meaning his heart became so inflamed that it failed.

While the coroner’s office’s statement Wednesday didn’t mention COVID-19, researchers have found evidence that the illness — like other viral infections — can cause deadly heart complications, including in children.

COVID-19 largely spares minors its worst damage, while disproportionately affecting the elderly or infirm. Yet some children have fallen critically ill from the sickness.

Anderson as of Wednesday remained only one of two people younger than 18 who have died after contracting COVID-19 while living in Louisiana, where the virus has killed more than 2,850 people overall, according to government officials. More than two-thirds of the disease's victims in Louisiana have been 70 or older.

Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Dwight McKenna co-authored an article in Fetal and Pediatric Pathology, a medical journal, that provides additional details about Anderson’s case, without naming the boy. 

Using general biographical details about Anderson, the article said the boy was living with a relative while his mother, described as a healthcare worker, was exposed to COVID-19 patients.

He had been participating in his normal activities, including football practice at his school, when he developed severe headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, according to the article. He never reported a fever, shortness of breath or a cough, which are some of the most common COVID-19 symptoms.

Anderson collapsed two days after the onset of his symptoms, the article said. He did not have a pulse when Emergency Medical Services paramedics arrived to treat him, and he was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

A COVID-19 test performed on Anderson posthumously came back with a positive result. An autopsy did not show any evidence of pneumonia or other lung damage, as is common in COVID-19 cases. But it did reveal that his heart was almost twice the size than it should have been.

The article stops short of saying that COVID-19 triggered Anderson’s lethal heart swelling. But it found no other cause for it and alludes to how doctors have found similar heart swelling and failure in other COVID-19 cases. Louisiana health officials have included Anderson's death in their tally of deaths due to the coronavirus.

Attempts to contact Anderson’s family Wednesday were unsuccessful. Anderson was a student at Sophie B. Wright High School, and his survivors included his grandparents as well as three siblings, his obituary said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards held up Anderson’s case as proof that everyone in Louisiana was at risk of death from COVID-19, which triggered statewide economic shutdowns that have been gradually being lifted since last month.

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