Coronavirus-related syndrome behind death of Florida girl, 8: ‘She was a perfect child’

A Florida family is grieving the loss of an 8-year-old girl who died after showing signs of a rare but serious syndrome related to the novel coronavirus, her father said. 

Deaurra Nealy, a second-grade student at Twin Lakes Academy Elementary in  Jacksonville, died on Sunday — just days after showing signs of the coronavirus-linked multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), her father, Dearick Nealy, told local news station WJXT. 

"A perfectly healthy child, just going in for a normal stomach ache and a negative COVID test," he said. "And then her fever wouldn’t break."

MIS-C is a condition that often causes different parts of the body to become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms of the condition often include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and fatigue. 

RELATED: CDC forecast now projects up to 508,000 COVID-19 deaths by Feb. 13

At this time, doctors do not know what exactly causes MIS-C. But many children who develop it "had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19," per the CDC. 

Nealy said his daughter tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, indicating she had been infected with the virus at some point. 

"She strived to be great at everything, her grades. She had all 100s and a 95, and she thought that wasn’t good enough. That’s the type of person she was," he recalled. She wanted to uplift people, and she brightened the room when she walked in. I mean, she’s inspired so many people in such a short amount of time. I just knew she was just a perfect child."

RELATED: Concern grows in Florida over more contagious COVID strain

Following the death of his daughter, Nealy encouraged others to continue to take COVID-19  seriously — especially if they have children. 

"A lot of people are told that COVID-19 doesn’t affect children. And so a lot of people, they get lazy with simple sanitary measures like masks and hand sanitizer —  just something simple," he said. "It’s to help not pass that on to anyone else."

Get updates at