Stony Brook Children's Hospital
As we discover more about the effects of coronavirus, we’re also learning about a new and rare illness in children that appears to be connected to COVID-19. Dr. Christy Beneri explains what parents should look for and what steps to take if their child develops any of the signs or symptoms.
What should I know about this new illness?
The first thing to know is that it’s rare. Called Multisystem Inflammatory Illness in Children, or MIS-C, this new disorder seems to appear in a very small number of children, the majority of whom either have or previously had COVID-19. These children may have an immune overreaction to the virus, and will need prompt evaluation and possibly treatment in the hospital.
What are the signs and symptoms of MIS-C?
So far, the signs and symptoms that have been noticed are persistent fevers, skin rash, red (bloodshot) eyes, swelling of hands and feet, red and cracked lips, a swollen and bumpy strawberry-colored tongue, swollen glands in the neck, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. It’s important to keep in mind that not all children affected will have all of these symptoms.
I heard this disease may be related to Kawasaki disease. Is it the same thing?
Because some of the signs of MIS-C are similar to those in children with Kawasaki disease, some doctors believe that the two illnesses may be related. But no connection has been confirmed yet.
What should I do if my child has any of these signs or symptoms?
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately. You may need to bring your child to be examined. But, if your child has emergency warning signs of MIS-C, you should call 911 or go directly to your nearest emergency room.
What are those emergency warning signs?
These include trouble breathing, chest pain, bluish lips or face, dehydration, severe abdominal pain, confusion, and/or an inability to wake up or stay awake.
What kind of treatments are being used for children with MIS-C?
Since MIS-C triggers what we call an inflammatory response, the focus is on anti-inflammatory treatments. These typically include intravenous treatments with medicines that help to reduce inflammation.
Are the treatments effective?
Yes, they have been. Most of the children we’ve seen do well and are discharged either within a few days or, in some cases, after a couple of weeks. The sooner your child gets treated, the shorter the duration of the illness.
Is MIS-C contagious?
No. But, it is a response to the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19, which is a contagious disease. This new presentation suggests a child already had or currently has COVID-19. It is possible another family member also has the virus. That’s why it’s vital to continue to practice all the safety measures, including frequent handwashing, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Parents and other caregivers should be aware of the signs and symptoms, and check their child regularly to see if any of them emerge.
How many children in Suffolk have been diagnosed with MIS-C?
As of now we’ve only seen a very small number of cases. But, as we continue to learn more about the effects of COVID-19 in children, we anticipate there could be more cases in the future.
If my child gets MIS-C, why is Stony Brook Children’s a good choice for treatment.
Stony Brook Children’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases is unique to Suffolk County. Here we treat children with all types of infectious diseases both in our hospital and on an outpatient basis. Our specialists, all of whom are board certified, not only provide advanced clinical services for sick children, but also teach medical students, residents and fellows about infectious diseases.
Remember, if your child shows any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or MIS-C, contact your pediatrician right away. You can make appointments with all Stony Brook Children’s doctors by calling (631) 444-KIDS (5437). If your child has emergency symptoms, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.