Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) and What You Should Know

Every day, new information surfaces on the spread of the coronavirus. And while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that children may be at a lower risk for COVID-19, a new pediatric health condition associated with the coronavirus has begun to make an appearance.

Introducing Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) can cause different parts of the body, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs, to become inflamed. And while considered rare and not contagious, MIS-C, also known as pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS), can be serious and, in some cases, dangerous.

“At this time, the exact cause of MIS-C is not known,” said Kristina Gutierrez-Barela, MD, board-certified pediatrician with Lovelace Medical Group. “But in several cases, we are seeing that many with MIS-C have either had the coronavirus disease or been around someone infected with the virus, which makes it important for parents to understand its signs and symptoms.”

Signs and Symptoms of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

While experts advise MIS-C shares similar characteristics to Kawasaki disease (a condition that causes swelling and redness in blood vessels) and toxic shock syndrome, it is a different condition.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • High fever (100.4 or higher that’s lasted for several days)
  • Rash
  • Swollen hands and feet, which may also be red
  • Conjunctivitis (red or pink eyes)
  • Enlarged lymph glands in the neck
  • Swelling and inflammation of the mouth, lips and throat
  • Red, cracked lips or red, bumpy tongue that looks like a strawberry
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Abdominal (belly) pain without another explanation
  • Irritability or decreased activity
  • Difficulty feeding (infants) or too sick to drink fluids
  • Shock (in some cases as a result of the inflammatory response in the organs)

Gutierrez-Barela also advises that many cases of MIS-C have appeared to affect school-aged children, which differs from Kawasaki disease that primarily affects children under the age of 5.

Treatment of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

To look for signs of MIS-C, your doctor may conduct a series of tests, including blood tests, a chest x-ray, heart ultrasound (echocardiogram) and abdominal ultrasound. If MIS-C is diagnosed, treatment may require a hospital stay and involve multimodal therapy with medications, such as steroids and immunoglobulin, to target the body’s immune system and inflammatory response. To protect the heart, kidneys and other organs, doctors may also provide additional medications, treatment and fluids to help with shock.

“Early signs do indicate that most children are able to recover with treatment,” said Gutierrez-Barela. “Therefore, if your child has any of the above symptoms and has either tested positive for COVID-19 or been around someone with coronavirus, it is important to seek medical advice.”

To set up an appointment with a Lovelace Medical Group pediatrician, call 727.2727.