Doctors are only just beginning to see multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
Children’s Wisconsin, formerly known as The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, announced Friday that it has treated seven cases of what is believed to be multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a syndrome that occurs in children who have either exhibited coronavirus symptoms or have been asymptomatic carriers.
The new syndrome has symptoms including trouble breathing, rash, bloodshot eyes, neck pain, severe abdominal pain, and persistent pressure or pain in the chest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MIS-C can be serious or even deadly in the most severe cases, according to the CDC.
It is not contagious, but appears to be a post-infection complication of the highly contagious coronavirus, according to Dr. Frank Zhu, medical director of infection control and prevention for Children’s Wisconsin.
Five of the children at Children’s Wisconsin were treated and discharged “after relatively brief hospital stays,” and two remain hospitalized but in good condition, according to Dr. Mike Gutzeit, a pediatric specialist with the hospital. Two of the children tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, two tested negative, two are pending, and one child has not yet been tested, Gutzeit said.
The cases date back to April.
“Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is still very new, and there is still so much to learn,” Gutzeit said. “We’re taking a very conservative approach and reporting all possible cases in order to gather as much information as possible.”
Gutzeit added that, while the syndrome can have severe effects, “the vast majority” of children recover with little or no hospitalization.
Kawasaki disease, another rare ailment, has similar symptoms and is rare among children over 5, Zhu said. MIS-C has been found in older children, including teenagers, far more frequently, he said.
The best method to treat MIS-C is “still under investigation,” Zhu said. Currently, doctors are treating patients similar to those suffering from Kawasaki disease, he said. Those treatments include intravenous anti-inflammation treatment, aspirin, and steroids.
“Those are all under investigation,” Zhu said. “We are not certain yet at this time what is the best course of treatment for them.”
Zhu said if parents notice any MIS-C symptoms in their children, they should quickly seek medical care.
It is not clear how many MIS-C cases have been reported worldwide. This week, health officials in New York and New Jersey, where the outbreak has been most extreme in America, said they are investigating more than 200 cases in total.