Coronavirus in kids: What parents should know about Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — As positive cases of the coronavirus rise in Tampa Bay, doctors are seeing more children with the virus.

Although many cases with kids are mild, Dr. Juan Dumois, a Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital said they are seeing children in the emergency room who are really sick.

“We are detecting a lot more cases in our own emergency room, although most of those children are being sent home because they are fortunately not sick enough to be in the hospital. However, we are seeing some more cases that resemble the new multisystem inflammatory system syndrome,” he said.

Coronavirus symptoms in children can include: 

  • Fever
  • ​Cough 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Sore throat 
  • Unexplained loss of taste or smell 
  • Headache 
  • Diarrhea 

According to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Pediatric, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) causes symptoms that resemble Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. While the condition is rare and treatable, it can be dangerous. The condition has typically affected children age 2-15 and can include a fever lasting more than 24 hours with the following symptoms: 

  • Unusual weakness or fatigue 
  • ​A red rash 
  • Abdominal (belly) pain 
  • Vomiting and diarrhea 
  • Red, cracked lips 
  • Red eyes 
  • Swollen hands or feet 

Children with MIS-C could often have heart problems such as heart failure, when the heart muscle is weaker than normal and has trouble effectively pumping blood to the rest of the body. Doctors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital know how to recognize this condition and treat it. 

Dr. Dumois says that although most children are not getting as sick as adults with COVID-19, they can bring it home to the adults in the household who may be more likely to be hospitalized for it. He says it is still a good idea to have children minimize contact with other kids and conduct social distancing outside the home. If they will be around any other people, they should wear a mask.

Many parents are stressed about the start of school and whether or not it will be safe for their children to return to the classroom.

Dr. Dumois says the coronavirus is so contagious that it is not going away anytime soon. Secondly, he points out, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that less than five percent of most Americans, outside the New York City area, have immunity to it, based on several recent studies. 

Dr. Dumois believes that returning children to classrooms as things were before the pandemic could be very risky. He is urging parents to reach out to schools now to make an informed decision.

“Start investigating now. There is a lot of variability out there in the different school districts and unfortunately some school districts are not giving very good advice to principals on how to customize their own preparations,” he said. “I think right is a good time to teach kids the importance of social distancing, cleaning their hands, and wearing a mask.”

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