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MIS-C: What Parents Need to Know

MIS-C: What Parents Need to Know

Prior to the fourth wave, children have largely been spared severe outcomes from COVID-19, allowing parents to breathe a little easier and focus their attentions on older family members. Today, 48 states are reporting cases of children developing a serious COVID-related inflammatory condition called MIS-C (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome), and Louisiana accounts for 20% of all MIS-C deaths in the United States.

MIS-C is a rare but severe condition that can be present at the time of an initial COVID-19 diagnosis or can develop days to weeks after getting sick with COVID-19. MIS-C causes severe inflammation in the vital organs and tissues, including the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, eyes, skin, or gastrointestinal organs. Without treatment, it be life-threatening.

The syndrome can affect those under 21 years of age but is most commonly seen in children between the ages 9-12. The CDC has also reported more cases among African American and Hispanic populations. Adults can also have multisystem inflammatory syndrome (called MIS-A), but it is more common in children because their immune systems aren’t typically as strong as adults.

If your child develops a fever AND any of these signs and symptoms, call your child’s doctor:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Rash
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Headache
  • Feeling extra tired
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Low blood pressure

If your child develops any of these signs and symptoms, seek emergency care immediately:

  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
  • Trouble breathing
  • Confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

Diagnosing MIS-C in children requires antibody testing to determine current or past COVID-19 infection, as well as additional lab tests and imaging tests including chest x-rays, CT scans, and echocardiograms.

Once diagnosed, treatment is dependent on the severity of the symptoms, but typically involves supportive care and measures to reduce the inflammation in any affected organs and are vital to prevent permanent damage. Common treatments can include fluids to help treat or prevent dehydration, oxygen to help with breathing and in more critical cases require breathing machines, blood pressure and blood clot medications, antibiotics, and steroid therapy.

There is still much to learned about MIS-C including its cause and risk factors. The good news is that this condition can be treated, and many children who develop MIS-C don’t get critically ill or require intensive care. Long-term effects of MIS-C are unknown, but the CDC is tracking MIS-C patients and deaths.

The best protection against MIS-C is to follow current recommended safety measures to minimize exposure to COVID-19. Because children under the age of 12 are not eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, the best way to protect your child is to wear a mask, social distance, avoiding crowds, wash hands frequently and get vaccinated.

If you need to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine, visit