New evidence suggests that the mysterious Kawasaki-like child illness known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) could be triggered by COVID-19. It is also known as or Paediatric Inflammatory Multi-System Syndrome (PIMS-TS). 

MIS-C in children is a condition that causes inflammation in different parts of the body like the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

When it first began emerging in late April/early May, MISC-C or IMS-TS was initially compared to Kawasaki-disease and toxic-shock syndrome. However, studies have revealed it is a new, distinct illness of its own, and many experts thinking it was related to COVID-19.

In May, the CDC officially announced that MIS-C and COVID-19 are linked.

Doctors believed that MIS-C was not caused by the virus. Rather that the weakened immune system following an infection makes children more susceptible to getting MIS-C.

New research by the University of Birmingham now suggests that COVID-19 could be the cause of MIS-C in children, not just related to it as previously thought. The results of this test could mean that any child who has had the virus, even if they were asymptomatic, is at risk of developing MIS-C.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham ran antibody tests in children displaying symptoms in line with MIS-C. The CDC describes antibodies as proteins that fights off infection and prevent further infection. Antibody tests check the blood for the presence of antibodies, which can show if someone has had a viral infection in the past.

All children tested in the research process came back negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus but all had high levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. This shows they had COVID-19 at some point in the last few weeks or months but recovered. They then developed MISC-C symptoms much later.

Based on these results, researchers now believe that antibody testing can be used as an effective means of diagnosing MIS-C/PIMS-TS, even if the virus is not directly detectable in the patient. This testing allows for rapid diagnosis and early treatment, which could make a big difference in how the disease develops.

“By focusing on assay development using academic principles, we have designed a sensitive antibody test that can be used to detect exposure to SARS-CoV-2 infections. The test will be used to understand how many people have suffered from COVID-19 in our communities but we have found another use identifying PIMS-TS in these sick children,” said Dr. Alex Richter, lead researcher and Consultant Immunologist at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy.

The CDC warns that MISC-C can be serious and even deadly in children, but most who are diagnosed will recover with medical care. Symptoms to look out for in your child include:

– persistent fever

– irritability or sluggishness

– severe abdominal pain

– diarrhea

– vomiting

– rash

– red or pink eyes

– enlarged lymph node gland on one side of the neck

– red cracked lips or red tongue

– swollen hands and feet

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