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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

August 04, 2020, Koch, Josh, MD ,
Five things parents should know about Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S., a new illness affecting children has emerged. Known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), this rare but serious condition is thought to be a delayed reaction to a COVID-19 infection in which a child’s immune system revs up to fight the disease, but instead attacks the body’s healthy cells, particularly those in the heart and blood vessels.

This illness has dominated headlines in recent weeks, creating considerable anxiety and alarm for parents. Misinformation about MIS-C is flooding the internet, too, which makes it difficult for parents to really understand its symptoms, prevalence and risks.

To give parents a clear understanding of MIS-C, here are the top five things to know:

  1. MIS-C is rare. Although it’s a big news story, the condition affects a very small percentage of children. In fact, the vast majority of kids who contract COVID-19 experience only mild systems and recover well without medical intervention. Learn more here.
  2. MIS-C is serious, but very treatable. Thankfully, MIS-C is similar to Kawasaki Disease – which is well-researched – and existing treatments are proving very effective. Our team at Phoenix Children’s is working closely with healthcare professionals from all over the world to share information and collaborate on the diagnosis and treatment of MIS-C. In nearly all instances, kids who receive appropriate care are making a full recovery from MIS-C.
  3. Parents should not delay care. If parents suspect their child might have MIS-C, a visit to their pediatrician or emergency department should not be delayed. Phoenix Children’s is adhering to all guidelines from local and national health authorities and taking extra precautions to provide the safest, cleanest environment possible. Fear of catching the virus should not stop parents from seeking care.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Fever for more than a day
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Neck pain
  • Rash
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Feeling extra tired

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, call your pediatrician or head to the Emergency Department right away.

  1. MIS-C can’t spread between children. This condition isn’t communicable, but COVID-19 is highly contagious. Families should continue efforts to avoid catching COVID-19, including wearing masks in public, washing hands frequently, physical distancing and limiting contact with those outside their households.
  2. MIS-C is just as likely to occur in otherwise healthy children. Many diseases play an outsize role in the lives of youth who have pre-existing or chronic conditions. But that’s not the case here. In the most recent study, three out of four children impacted by MIS-C did not have any underlying health issues that would have put them at extra risk. All parents should pay attention to the signs and symptoms of MIS-C and seek care immediately if they believe their child has the illness.
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