The mysterious illness affecting hundreds of children across the world, called multisystem inflammatory syndrome or MIS-C, has been confirmed to be linked to COVID-19.

The Center for Disease Control recently announced the connection, explaining that MIS-C can come weeks after infection in children. Doctors believe it is not directly caused by the virus, rather that the weakened immune system following infection makes children more susceptible to getting MIS-C.

Last month, doctors in the UK were the first to send an alert about the mystery illness largely affecting children. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on May 12 that they are investigating 102 cases of the syndrome and three deaths in the state. There have also been dozens of reports from 14 other US states, as well as from Italy and Spain.

The syndrome has a relatively wide age range. Cases have been recognised in persons aged 5 months to 20 years old, according to Dr. Nadine Choueiter, a pediatric cardiologist at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx.

In a press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the disease will now be referred to as multisystem inflammatory syndrome or MIS-C. It was originally called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or PMIS.

Initial reports compared symptoms of MIS-C to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, an illness that causes inflammation of the blood vessels in children. However, experts now believe it is a new illness altogether.

The CDC released new guidelines on the disease, explaining that much is still unknown about the illness.

“CDC is collaborating with domestic and international partners to investigate reports of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. CDC and partners are working to better understand this new syndrome, including how common it is and its risk factors, and to begin tracking cases,” they said in a statement.

According to the CDC, the official symptoms of the illness are as follows:

– 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

“Patients with MIS-C have presented with a persistent fever and a variety of signs and symptoms including multiorgan (e.g., cardiac, gastrointestinal, renal, hematologic, dermatologic, neurologic) involvement, and elevated inflammatory markers. Not all children will have the same symptoms, and some children may have symptoms not listed here. MIS-C may begin weeks after a child is infected with SARS-CoV-2. The child may have been asymptomatically infected and, in some cases, the child and their caregivers may not even know they had been infected.”

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