MIS-C: Rare Inflammatory Disorder Linked To COVID-19

According to CDC, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal (gut) pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired.

The novel coronavirus doesn’t usually cause severe disease in children, but for those few kids that do go on to develop MIS-C, the condition seems to inflame different parts of the body, and it can be serious.

In an update released Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been 2,617 MIS-C cases in the United States before March 1, and 33 children have died. That’s up from early February, when 2,060 cases and 30 deaths had been reported.

Key Findings

  • Most cases were in children and adolescents between the ages of 1 and 14 years, with a median age of 9 years.
  • Cases have occurred in children and adolescents from <1 year old to 20 years old.
  • 66% of reported cases have occurred in children who are Hispanic or Latino (842 cases) or Black, Non-Hispanic (746 cases).
  • 99% of cases (2,591) tested positive for SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The remaining 1% were around someone with COVID-19.
  • More than half (59%) of reported cases were male.

The Washington University researchers are part of the Pediatric Research Immune Network on SARS-CoV-2 and MIS-C (PRISM) clinical trial at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, one of 20 sites nationwide in the study funded by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The trial is aimed at understanding the extent to which children and young adults develop serious complications of COVID-19, including MIS-C, that can lead to hospital admission or death. They also will decipher the underlying immunology that leads to different forms of MIS-C and COVID-19 in children. Charles Canter, MD, professor of pediatrics and the Lois B. Tuttle and Jeanne B. Hauck Chair in Pediatric Cardiology, will lead the trial, supported by co-investigators William Orr, MD, and Carol Kao, MD, both assistant professors of pediatrics.

“While MIS-C is rare, it is worrisome because most children hospitalized with the condition were healthy just a few weeks before,” Canter said. “We can’t predict which children will develop it and why. The aim of this study is to understand what drives the development of MIS-C and severe COVID-19 in children so we can identify those who are at risk and determine the best way to treat them.”

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