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Multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)

What is MIS-C?

Multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) can develop within four weeks of exposure to SARS-COV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The syndrome can cause different parts of the body to become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs, often resulting in hospitalization. About one in 1,000 children who either have the virus or have been exposed to it develop MIS-C.

After release from hospitalization, many children with MIS-C continue experiencing fatigue, inflammation and skin rashes. These symptoms may appear even without the presence of other symptoms related to COVID-19.

How do we diagnose MIS-C?

Most children diagnosed with MIS-C do not experience a significant initial COVID-19 infection. Some don't have the usual COVID-19 symptoms, but have come into contact with a person with the disease. Diagnosis comes from observing inflammation in organs and tissues and checking for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in the child's blood.

MIS-C can be serious and life-threatening, but if caught early can be successfully treated. It is not contagious. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Neck pain
  • Rash
  • Changes inside the mouth, i.e. red tongue
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Feeling extra tired

How do we treat MIS-C?

During their hospitalizations, we treat children with steroids for the inflammation. We use other medications, including anakinra, a therapy used by pediatric rheumatologists to slow joint damage and reduce joint pain and swelling. IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) can help patients with weakened immune systems.

After they are released from the hospital, many children still experience fatigue, continuing inflammation and skin rashes. We continue seeing these patients beginning one week after hospital discharge, then at one month, three months, six months and one year.