AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — As children face this wave of the pandemic, some are fighting a new battle — multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. It is a rare syndrome which causes inflammation in organs. There have been several cases at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
“MIS-C is quite rare,” Dr. Jim Wilde, a pediatric emergency physician at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, says. “It does happen. There have been at least 40 kids, that the CDC has reported, who have died from MIS-C.”
Children can develop MIS-C two to four weeks after being infected with COVID-19. “Different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs,” according to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). Children develop a fever for several days and become extremely sick, requiring hospitalization.
“You have multiple systems involved with a high-degree of inflammation, which is measured by certain laboratory tests. You also have a high fever that lasts up to three days, depending on which definition you use. You’re also sick enough to be admitted to a hospital. The primary problem with MIS-C is multisystem inflammation, but particularly the heart can be involved. In many of the severe cases, there have been problems with blood pressure, or going into shock because the heart is not able to pump blood properly. The kids who have severe MIS-C and have died from it, primarily, have been the kids who have had problems with blood pressure, so heart issues that have led to their deaths.”
Symptoms, according to DPH:
- Trouble breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
- Severe abdominal pain
Once hospitalzied, patients can be treated with medications for inflammation.
“Those kids are almost always being put in the ICU. They’re getting infusions of both immunoglobulin, steroids and sometimes aspirin. There’s not a truly standard therapy for MIS-C. There are a lot of variations. It’s a brand new entity. We’re still learning a lot about it.”
“MIS-C is out there. Parents should be aware it’s out there. Ask your doctor about MIS-C if you’re concerned about it.”
Miriam Tice was aware of MIS-C when her three-year-old daughter began showing symptoms in February. But, she never expected it would impact her family.
Tice tells NewsChannel 6 the symptoms started with a strange rash in her daughter’s diaper area a few weeks after she recovered from COVID-19. She then appeared to develop cognitive issues and had a fever. Tice took her daughter to be seen at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, where she had a seizure that lasted for 37 minutes. The medical team then learned MIS-C affected her daughter’s kidney and bladder.
“The doctors and staff in the ER worked very hard to save her,” Tice explains. “It was gut wrenching to watch.”
After nine days in the hospital, the child was discharged and returned home. But, she continues to receive care.
“My advice to parents is to watch your children who have had COVID,” Tice says. “Even if it’s a mild case it doesn’t matter. Watch for an unexplained rash or redness in the whites of their eyes. If you see these signs get your child to the doctor fast. MISC or Kawasaki Disease has a timeline. If you don’t get your child treated, they could have permanent heart damage, or it can even be fatal.”
“I am thankful to Dr. Basali, Dr. Allen and the whole team at MCG,” she adds. “Most of all, I thank God for letting my baby see another day.”
MIS-C is only one condition researchers are analyzing. It is still unclear how COVID-19 will affect children long term.
“We do know that based on the experience in adults, about 10 to 30 percent of adults experience long haul COVID-19, which is long-term side effects — fatigue, lung disease, lung scarring,” Dr. Phillip Coule, the Chief Medical Officer of AU Health, explains. “What we see in adults is they can have so much lung damage that they end up having to go home on oxygen. That can persist for quite a while.”