At Least 26 States Report Cases of Coronavirus-Related Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) affects kids who have previously had the coronavirus or been exposed to someone who was infected 

children COVID-19
Child and his father wearing masks amid coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Getty

Cases of the coronavirus-related inflammatory illness affecting children have now been reported in at least 26 states across the country.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) — formerly called pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome — has been seen in children who have previously had coronavirus or been exposed to someone infected with the illness.

It is not yet known whether the inflammatory syndrome is specific to children or can also occur in adults and there is limited information about risk factors and treatment options, the CDC said in a health advisory on May 14.

MIS-C presents similarly to Kawasaki disease, a rare but treatable condition that causes inflammation in blood vessels, and seems to affect the heart of those who may have been infected with COVID-19 but does not include the landmark symptoms: coughing and shortness of breath.

Nurses station in busy hospital
Nurses station in busy hospital. Getty

The symptoms of MIS-C include, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and feeling extra tired.

The CDC urged parents to contact their child’s doctor, nurse or clinic right away if they experience any of these symptoms and to take the child to the hospital immediately if they show emergent symptoms: trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face or severe abdominal pain.

Cases of MIS-C first popped up in the U.K. before officials in New York City and State began reporting that children were coming down with a mysterious illness in late April and early May.

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On May 8, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that three children in the state, a 5-year-old, 7-year-old and a teenager, had died from the illness. As of Tuesday, New York was investigating a total of 170 reported cases of MIS-C.

Though it can be deadly, the CDC notes that most children diagnosed with the condition have gotten better with medical care.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House coronavirus task force, addressed the syndrome while giving his testimony before a Senate committee earlier this month, warning that this was not something to take lightly.

“We don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be pretty careful, particularly when it comes to children,” Fauci said. “I think we better be careful we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune from the deleterious effects.”

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