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MIS-C: All about this post-COVID syndrome in children

By HT School Web Desk,

MIS-C is an inflammatory disease that affects kids after they recover from COVID-19.

Despite severe symptoms at the initial stage, kids with MIS-C recover within 6 months. Image: Shutterstock

As India wrestles with the second wave of COVID-19 and black fungus, a new health condition is posing yet another challenge to the Indian healthcare system: Multi-organ Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C). Characterised by inflammation in multiple organs, this condition is affecting COVID-recovered children in our country at an alarmingly increasing rate. Estimates by the Indian Academy of Pediatric Intensive Care reveal that north India alone has reported 100 cases of MIS-C in the last six days. Observed in children in the age bracket of 4-18 years, this condition affects them 4-6 weeks after recovery from COVID-19. Though MIS-C is a disease associated with the SARS-CoV-2 infection, experts are yet to identify a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. Some doctors, however, are of the opinion that it may be an allergy or reaction of the immune system against the antigens that children develop to counter COVID-19. 

Though rare, some instances of newborns being hit by MIS-C have also been found. Doctors suggest a 2D Echocardiography in them to rule out heart inflammation. Babies born to mothers who had suffered from COVID-19 in the third trimester should be observed very carefully, say experts.  

What is MIS-C? 
This is a rare inflammatory disorder, which has increased recently, affecting kids after their recovery from COVID-19. MIS-C emerged in April last year. The result of an overactive immune system, it affects multiple body parts including heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, skin, eyes and digestive organs. In extreme and rare cases, it can result in multi-organ failure and even death. However, a study published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, observes that despite severe symptoms at the initial stage, most of the children recovered within 6 months. The survey was conducted among 46 children in a UK hospital.   

Symptoms to watch out for 
As already mentioned, MIS-C is an inflammatory disorder that attacks various organs of the body. The major symptoms include: 

  • Prolonged fever (more than three days) 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Neck pain 
  • Skin rash 
  • Blood-shot eyes 
  • Immense fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Dizziness 
  • Redness or swelling of lips, tongue, hands and feet 

However, the manifestations may vary from case to case. Inform the doctor in case of emergency signs like breathing trouble, pain in the chest and abdomen, inability to stay awake, skin or lips turning pale, grey or blue.  

Diagnosis of MIS-C 

Doctors advise the following tests to detect the condition:

  • Blood test 
  • Chest X-ray 
  • Heart ultra sound 
  • Abdominal ultra sound. 

Treatment of MIS-C 
In most cases, this condition needs hospitalisation. The line of treatment, which aims at symptom control, includes: 

  • Fluids for dehydration 
  • Oxygen to improve breathing 
  • Medicines to reduce the risk of blood clots 
  • Aspirin to bring down heart concerns 
  • Antibiotics to protect against infections 
  • Steroids and immunoglobulin to control swelling and inflammation 

Precautionary measures 
The safety protocol for MIS-C is very similar to that of COVID-19. Make sure your child:  

  • Washes hands with soap or water for 20 seconds.  
  • Cleans hands with a sanitizer having 60% alcohol in the absence of soap 
  • Avoids sick people 
  • Maintains social distancing  
  • Wears face mask in public places 
  • Avoids touching nose, eye or mouth 
  • Covers nose and mouth with tissue at the time of sneezing or coughing. 

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