What is MIS-C? Here’s what we know about the syndrome triggered by COVID

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 6-year-old girl is fighting for her life in a Memphis hospital, battling a syndrome brought on by COVID.

But what exactly is multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C? We asked experts for more information.

We previously reported on 6-year-old Hattie Lucille Shell, hospitalized and in need of AB negative platelets. Hattie showed no symptoms when she had COVID-19. Her family learned about it once she was diagnosed with MIS-C.

Dr. Sandy Arnold, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, explained the infection.

“It can really involve any system, but the most common ones we see are the involvement of cardiac and respiratory, gastrointestinal, so belly pain, vomiting and diarrhea,” Arnold said. “They have skin and mucous membrane involvement, sometimes they have central nervous system involvement, so increased sleepiness.”

 She says while it’s not very common, they’ve treated about 115 to 120 cases at Le Bonheur.

“Because the number of cases of COVID is still peaking we expect in the next few weeks there will be many and will probably have a fairly rapid rise. Most of these kids do come in and get better very promptly but some of them are extremely ill and do end up being in the ICU and requiring multiple rounds of treatment,” Arnold said.

Hattie Lucille Shell

“Some publications have shown that the peak of MIS-C occurs about four weeks following the cases of COVID,” she said. “So we are seeing patients with MIS-C now, but early in this surge, when we were starting to see cases of severe COVID, we were not seeing that much of it. But now that the surge is lasting longer and longer, kids who had COVID from earlier in the surge are coming in with MIS-C. “

Arnold noted many children who get MIS-C never show COVID-19 symptoms. 

“And so we know that they had COVID either because they were tested and tested positive, or there’s a history and someone they were around had COVID,” she said.

She says it’s important children stay safe by wearing masks at school and those who are eligible get vaccinated. 

Click here to learn more about MIS-C.

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