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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

June 05, 2020, Koch, Josh, MD ,
What You Need to Know About Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

As experts learn more about COVID-19, a growing number of pediatric clinicians and researchers are trying to better understand a newly defined syndrome – Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. This syndrome can affect many organs in the body, but at its most dangerous, can seriously impact a child’s heart. The disease has recently been reported in the United Kingdom and in New York City. Features of MIS-C share a lot in common with another disease we have treated for many years in pediatrics called Kawasaki Disease and doctors are still trying to understand how it is similar and how it is different.

Parents should contact their child’s doctor right away if they show symptoms of MIS-C:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Neck pain
  • Rash
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Feeling extra tired

The biggest risk for these children is developing problems with their heart. Fortunately, effective treatments exist for Kawasaki Disease, and those treatments seem to be effective in treating MIS-C. Doctors across the country and across the world have been sharing information frequently to understand how to best treat this syndrome.

Not all patients who present with this new disease have active COVID-19 infections, but most have developed antibodies to COVID-19, which are formed by the body in order to fight the virus.

Many experts believe this syndrome is caused by those antibodies, which attack the patient’s blood vessels. This is also the problem in Kawasaki Disease.

Most patients believed to have this disease do not experience the symptoms that have become synonymous with COVID-19, like breathing problems or a cough. Instead, they may experience abdominal pain with vomiting or diarrhea, in addition to Kawasaki Disease-related symptoms, like long-lasting fevers, red eyes, tongue and skin rash, swollen lymph nodes and swelling and redness on the hands and bottoms of the feet.

If your child is experiencing MIS-C symptoms, seek medical care as soon as possible. To speak with an expert, please call the Phoenix Children’s Heart Center at 602-933-3366

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