What Is MIS-C?

MIS-C stands for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. It’s a condition that can bring on dangerous inflammation throughout a child’s body, including in the:

MIS-C can be severe and life-threatening. But most children get better with quick treatment.

Here’s what else you need to know.

Causes

Experts aren’t sure what causes MIS-C. But they know that lots of children with it had COVID-19 or spent time around someone with it. The CDC considers MIS-C to be a complication of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Children can have symptoms of MIS-C within days to weeks after they get sick with COVID-19 or for up to 4 weeks after exposure to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of it.

Symptoms

They’re not the same for every child. But call your doctor right away if yours has:

Call 911 or go to the emergency room if your child has:

  • A hard time breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure that doesn’t go away
  • Sudden confusion
  • Trouble staying awake
  • Cold, clammy, blue-looking lips or face
  • Severe belly pain

Who Gets MIS-C?

MIS-C is rare. Your child may be more likely to get it if they are between 3 and 12 years old.

But babies and teens can get MIS-C, too.

Researchers say there’s no evidence that the disease spreads from person to person. But your child could also have COVID-19 or another contagious infection at the same time that they have MIS-C. So if you go to the doctor’s office or a hospital, wear face masks.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may give your child tests that help spot inflammation or other signs of the disease. These tests can include:

These exams can also help your doctor rule out health conditions that may look similar to MIS-C, like Kawasaki disease, which can cause inflammation in artery walls throughout the body.

Continued

Treatment

Most children who become sick with MIS-C need hospital care. Some need to stay in the pediatric intensive care unit (ICU).

The doctor may give your child treatments that ease different symptoms of MIS-C, like:

Your child may also need treatments that lower swelling and inflammation, like:

  • Steroids
  • A blood product called immunoglobulin, given through a vein (IV)

Prevention

Follow the same safety steps that lower your chances of getting COVID-19. Remind your child to do things like:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If there’s nowhere to wash, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid sick people, especially if they’re coughing or sneezing.
  • Keep at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live in your home.
  • Wear face masks in public (if your child is 2 years old or up).
  • Don’t touch the nose, eyes, and mouth.
  • Cover the mouth with a tissue or elbow during a sneeze or cough.

Can Adults Get It?

Yes, but for them it's called MIS-A and it can also be dangerous or deadly without medical care. The CDC says reports suggest that adults who get MIS usually need intensive care at the hospital.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on August 09, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Up to Date: “Patient education: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and children (The Basics).”

CDC: “For Parents: Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19,” “Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Adults (MIS-A).”

Mayo Clinic: “Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and COVID-19.”

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: “Case Series of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Adults Associated with SARS-CoV-2 Infection — United Kingdom and United States, March–August 2020.”

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: “What Parents Need to Know About Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).”

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination