CDC issues new alert to doctors about mysterious illness in kids linked to coronavirus

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent doctors across the nation a health alert Thursday evening about a mysterious illness in children that’s been linked to coronavirus.

The CDC names the illness as the “Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children,” or MIS-C, linked to COVID-19 in children. 

“It is currently unknown if multisystem inflammatory syndrome is specific to children or if it also occurs in adults,” the CDC’s alert reads.

The alert gives doctors guidance to look for a fever of a least 100.4 degrees for a least 24 hours, inflammation and hospitalization with organ problems. The alert says that respiratory symptoms were not present in all cases.

“There is limited information currently available about risk factors, pathogenesis, clinical course, and treatment for MIS-C,” explained the alert. “CDC is requesting healthcare providers report suspected cases to public health authorities to better characterize this newly recognized condition in the pediatric population.”

Dr. Sarmistha Hauger, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Texas, was expecting the guidance from the CDC on Thursday.

“It seems like our curve is flattening a bit. So, perhaps, it’s delayed and maybe within the next 30 days or so we might be able to have some cases that may show up,” explained Dr. Hauger. 

Dr. Hauger said the symptoms mimic that of Kawasaki disease, including severe inflammation of the coronary arteries.

“Maybe red eyes without a lot of drainage, maybe a rash, maybe joint pains that are severe, red lips, swollen hands and feet,” said Dr. Hauger. “Just miserableness and not feeling well. Those are the kinds of things that you should seek care for.”

The CDC says a diagnosis needs to include a COVID-19 antigen test; or exposure within the four weeks before symptoms started. 

“Healthcare providers who have cared or are caring for patients younger than 21 years of age meeting MIS-C criteria should report suspected cases to their local, state, or territorial health department,” said the alert. 

Dr. Patricia Emmanuel, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, advises parents with concerns to seek immediate help.

“If you’re worried and you want your child to be evaluated, take them to their physician, take them to their provider,” she said. “I think it’s important that we talk about it and we’re aware of it so it can be recognized.”

Dr. Hauger is encouraging all parents to make sure their kids are up to date on their vaccines, “Our heard immunities decreases not getting immunizations.”

“The vast majority of children are not that ill,” said Dr. Hauger. “The vast majority of children will not get infected. The vast majority of children…even if they’re infected do just fine.”

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