Children across the world have been affected by a mysterious Kawasaki-like child illness known as multi-system inflammatory syndrome for children (MIS-C). New studies suggest those with MIS-C may still have the COVID-19 virus in their body several weeks after initial infection, and its viral structure could be to blame for the severity of symptoms.
MIS-C in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal (gut) pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19.
While MIS-C is relatively rare, it can become quite serious and has resulted in death. In the United States, there have been 1097 confirmed cases and 20 deaths. There have also been reports of MIS-C in South Africa, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
A new CDC study revealed that adults can also develop a severe condition similar to MIS-C, called multi-system inflammatory syndrome for adults (MIS-A).
Data suggests that MIS-C develops several weeks after initial COVID-19 infection, for both those that were symptomatic and asymptomatic. The COVID-19 virus may last in the body and continue to replicate in the digestive system.
According to Siew Ng, associate director of the Center for Gut Microbiota Research at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the virus can linger in stool for up to a month.
The viral structure of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus may be why so many patients experience severe gastrointestinal issues. Unlike other coronaviruses, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has unique bacterial toxins called superantigens, proteins that generate an excessive reaction from T cells, which are vital to the immune system.
This superantigen likely causes the immune system to overreact, resulting in excess inflammation that is characteristic in MIS-C. The inflammation can cause permanent damage to parts of the body.
Contact a doctor, nurse, or clinic right away if your child is showing symptoms of MIS-C:
– Abdominal pain
– Neck pain
– Bloodshot eyes
– Feeling extra tired
Be aware that not all children will have all the same symptoms.
Seek emergency care right away if your child is showing any of these emergency warning signs of MIS-C or other concerning signs:
– Trouble breathing
– Pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
– New confusion
– Inability to wake or stay awake
– Bluish lips or face
– Severe abdominal pain