What Parents Need to Know about COVID-19 and MIS-C

By Jonathan Crews, MD, MPH, Infectious Disease Specialist, Baylor College of Medicine, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

What is the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19?

Most children with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have a mild illness. However, starting in April 2020, pediatricians began to report a new illness in children that is similar to Kawasaki disease (KD) or toxic shock syndrome. Children with this condition have fever and multiple parts of their body are inflamed as shown by abnormal lab tests. Some children will have a serious illness needing specialized testing or imaging with medications to treat the inflammation. Many of the children with this condition will have an abnormal COVID-19 test showing a recent or active COVID-19 infection. This new condition has been termed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

What are the signs of MIS-C?

Children with MIS-C will have fever that lasts several days with symptoms from inflammation in the body. Not all children with MIS-C will have the same symptoms. The symptoms that have been seen in kids with MIS-C include: fever, belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, and feeling extra tired.

What should I do if I think my child is sick with MIS-C?

Thankfully, MIS-C is a rare illness in children, even in the midst of the pandemic. But if your child has symptoms of MIS-C, be sure to contact your child’s pediatrician. If your child has emergency warning signs of MIS-C, visit the emergency room right away. These emergency signs include:  trouble breathing, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face, severe abdominal pain, or pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away.

Where can I learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on children?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided helpful tips for families to keep children healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This information can be found below:

While Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is considered rare, it is important that to know the symptoms and seek immediate medical attention if your child shows any signs of the disease. The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio remains a safe place to give and receive care. We have instituted many new measures to ensure you and your child are safe. Masks are required by everyone over the age of 5. Only one support person per patient is allowed to enter the facility. Associates, physicians and visitors entering the hospital must have their temperature taken and answer a series of questions about their health and travel history. Our housekeeping staff is hard at work cleaning around the clock to keep all areas clean. It is an honor and privilege to care for you and your family – a tradition that began 150 years ago and continues on. For more information about COVID-19, visit our website http://www.chofsa.org.

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