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Unlike most respiratory infections, children seem to fare better than adults when it comes to COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean they are in the clear. Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) has become a rare but serious complication that parents should know about. 

Robin LaCroix, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Upstate and its medical director, said parents need to be aware of the symptoms of MIS-C.

The condition is similar to Kawasaki disease, a type of vasculitis that can occur in young children. LaCroix said the first descriptions of MIS-C came from Italy, then New York, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands, as those regions saw COVID-19 cases surge. To date, South Carolina has two confirmed cases. 

The first line of defense is protecting children from the virus. Before having MIS-C, the child will have had a COVID-19 infection, but may not have shown symptoms. MIS-C is presenting within approximately 4 weeks, according to LaCroix. 

“If their child is sick and becoming more ill and has these symptoms of conjunctivitis (red eyes), red lips, red tongue, rash, edema – swelling of the hands and feet, is particularly weak, lethargic, fatigued, they should seek medical evaluation of their child just to be sure they are not progressing into this more systemic, multi-symptom inflammation,” she said. 

Treatment for MIS-C is designed to curb the body’s immune response. LaCroix said it will also include monitoring the heart and supporting low blood pressure. 

“Most lengths of stay have been 5 – 8 days,” LaCroix said. “The treatments are given very early, literally within hours of diagnosis.”

Though MISC-C is rare, LaCroix said doctors are not able to predict which children will have it. It can affect a wide range of ages, up to age 21. 

“For the most part, these children recover completely,” she said. “We do follow them for quite a long period of time.”

Learn more about MIS-C and how to protect children from COVID-19 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/children/mis-c.html

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