Symptoms include fever, inflammation and organ damage, health experts say, and it can be fatal
The mysterious, COVID-related illness in children is spiking enough that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are issuing an emergency alert to physicians on what symptoms to look for. Currently, 17 states have reported cases of what experts are calling a “multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children” (MIS-C).
MIS-C can affect several organs at once and has been fatal in a few instances. New York has reported the most cases out of any state with 102 so far, and, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, three of those children have died as a result.
In Europe, scientists are reporting a 20-fold increase in illnesses like this one and Kawasaki disease in 82% of children who had contracted COVID-19. Spikes in Italy, France, and Great Britain are of noted concern to the CDC. Kawasaki disease is is an illness that causes inflammation (swelling and redness) in blood vessels throughout the body. It happens in three phases, and a lasting fever usually is the first sign. The condition most often affects kids younger than 5 years old.
The CDC is urging physicians who are seeing children with the inflammatory syndrome to report it to local health departments in order to better track cases and treatments. MIS-C is also presenting symptoms like persistent fever, low blood pressure, and multi-organ complications in addition to inflammation.
Dr. Steven Sack, Kentucky Health Commissioner, told CNN that the way this illness attacks children in multiple areas is a major cause for concern. “The children who get sick with this can have cardiovascular collapse and require supportive measures to maintain their blood pressure, or respiratory collapse requiring breathing support with a mechanical ventilator.”
The official CDC case definition for MIS-C must meet all of the following criteria:
- An individual aged under 21 years presenting with fever, laboratory evidence of inflammation, and evidence of clinically severe illness requiring hospitalization, with multisystem (more than two) organ involvement (cardiac, renal, respiratory, hematologic, gastrointestinal, dermatologic or neurological)
- No alternative plausible diagnoses
- Positive for current or recent SARS-CoV-2 infection by test; or COVID-19 exposure within the four weeks prior to the onset of symptoms
On Wednesday, Donald Trump began publicly pushing for schools to open, putting pressure on state governors to reopen in the fall. All of this despite warnings from medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who just Tuesday warned about risks to children based on the MIS-C data.
“We don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be very careful — particularly when it comes to children,” Fauci warned. “Because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe.”
Fauci is also reminding the general public that there is so much we don’t know about this novel virus, and scientists are learning more every day. All the more reason to be cautious when it comes to children in particular, he said.
“I think we better be careful, if we are not cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.”