Children’s COVID-19 Help Line
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a rare, but serious, condition where a child’s body parts — including the heart, lungs, brain, skin, kidneys, eyes and digestive organs — become inflamed. It’s similar to other inflammatory diseases, such as toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease.
The exact cause is unknown, but it has been closely linked to COVID-19. Some children may not have had prior symptoms of a coronavirus infection, such as cough, but were exposed by others. Many children with MIS-C test positive for coronavirus (the infection that causes COVID-19). The ones who test negative often have positive antibody (a protein for fighting infection) test, which indicates that they had the virus in the past.
Most children with MIS-C do recover, but only with medical care. Without the right care, the condition can get worse and can even become life-threatening.
Call your child’s provider right away if they show these symptoms:
- Fever that lasts 24 hours or longer
- Abdominal pain
- Neck pain
- Bloodshot eyes
- Swelling or redness in the tongue and lips
- Feeling unusually tired
Get your child emergency care immediately if the symptoms are severe or if they show the following emergency warning signs:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pressure or pain in the chest that does not go away
- Bluish face or lips
- Inability to wake up or stay awake
- Severe stomach pain
MIS-C is typically diagnosed through blood tests or imaging tests, such as a heart or abdominal ultrasound or a chest x-ray.
Most children need to be treated in the hospital, and some in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Treatment targets the immune system and reduces inflammation in vital organs, such as the heart or kidneys, to prevent permanent damage. Your child may also receive medicine or fluids that reduce symptoms and help them feel better.
At the moment, there’s no known way to prevent MIS-C. The best method is to continue to protect your child and family from COVID-19 using measures like mask-wearing (over age 2), social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and disinfecting surfaces. Since your child may have COVID-19 at the same time as MIS-C, try to keep them isolated as best you can from the rest of your family until you have discussed it with a healthcare professional.