Have you been hearing about the inflammatory syndrome being linked to COVID-19 cases in kids? This new development is frightening for families, especially as we weigh the possibility of camp, and school not too far on the horizon. We reached out to the experts at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital for more information and insight. Here’s what Marietta Vázquez, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatric infectious disease specialist who sees patients at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital—where six patients have been diagnosed with this syndrome as of May 27, 2020—says about this risk.
What exactly is this disorder?
It is now called MIS-C, which stands for multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with covid-19. This appears to be a new manifestation of Covid-19 infection, thus far seen only in children. It presents with severe inflammatory syndrome with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 or an epidemiological link to a COVID-19 case. We call it multisystem because it can affect different body parts that become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. MIS-C has been reported in the US and Europe.
Can you explain in layman’s terms what this means for kids and what parents should look for?
This seems to be a new manifestation associated with COVID-19. There is much we still don’t know, but it appears to occur in children after they have gotten better from COVID, and it has a lot of similarities to other diseases we see in pediatrics, including Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. Overall, our patients are doing well, and this is not a cause for panic—but the message is to be vigilant. If you have a child with a high fever for no other apparent reason, and other symptoms such as red eyes, belly pain, a prickly heat rash all over the body, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea, call your pediatrician.
Anything else to watch for?
Again, if their child develops a high fever that is not easily explained by other causes and abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes or feeling extra tired, they should call their healthcare provider.
How rare is it?
It’s important to note that, although a very severe presentation (with many of the affected children having to be cared for in the hospital and in the intensive care unit), it remains very rare.
How closely linked is it to COVID-19?
Most patients have acute or past infection, or a history of being exposed to COVID-19 infection.
How can parents continue to protect kids from COVID-19 and this syndrome?
Continue to observe guidelines from the CDC [and locally: CT’s Department of Public Health]: avoid crowds, use facial covers and physical distancing, and practicing frequent handwashing.
At this point do you recommend kids or parents get antibody tests?
Only in consultation with their healthcare provider.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Be vigilant, and don’t panic.