Multisystem inflammatory syndrome-C (MIS-C) is a rare condition. It is linked to COVID-19. It leads to inflammation in the body. The digestive system, heart, brain, or other organs may be affected. It can be life-threatening.
MIS usually develops after a COVID-19 infection. The exact cause is not clear. It may be due to an overreaction of the immune system.
MIS-C affects people under 21 years old. The main risk for MIS-C is a recent COVID-19 infection. It can happen even if the COVID-19 infection has no symptoms.
Symptoms of MIS-C develop days to weeks after getting COVID-19. They may be:
- Fever and chills
- Pain in the belly, chest, or neck
- Eye redness
- Loose stools (poop)
- Being very tired
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
Severe symptoms need care right away. They include:
- Problems breathing
- Lasting chest pain
- Problems thinking or staying awake
- Pale gray or blue color to skin, lips, or nails
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
Tests will be done to look for inflammation and organ damage. They may include:
- Blood tests
- Images such as:
- Chest x-rays—to check the lungs
- Abdominal ultrasound—to look at organs in the belly area
- Echocardiogram—to check the heart
Other tests may be done.
Diagnosis is based on recent COVID-19 infection, symptoms, and test results.
Treatment of MIS-C depends on how severe the symptoms are. It also depends on the affected body part. The goals are to reduce inflammation and prevent organ damage.
Supportive care may be given in the hospital. It may include:
- Oxygen—to help breathing
- Fluids—to prevent dehydration
- A breathing machine
Medicines may be given, such as:
- IV immunoglobulin—proteins to help fight infection
- Corticosteroids—to lower inflammation
- Antibiotics—to prevent or treat infections
- Low dose aspirin—to prevent blood clots
- Blood pressure medicines
- Other medicines to decrease proteins that cause inflammation
Most children get better with medical care. Rarely, the condition is fatal or causes lasting organ damage.
To reduce the risk of MIS-C, take steps to help prevent COVID-19 infection. This includes:
- Getting the recommended number of COVID-19 vaccine doses, if eligible
- Wearing a face mask in indoor public areas—if 2 years old or older
- Practicing social distancing
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov
National Institutes of Health https://www.nih.gov
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Infection Prevention and Control Canada https://ipac-canada.org
Belay E, Abrams J, et al. Trends in geographic and temporal distribution of US children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(8):837-845.
COVID-19 and pediatric patients. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/covid-19-and-pediatric-patients. Accessed September 3, 2021.
COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/covid-19-novel-coronavirus. Accessed September 3, 2021.
For parents: multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mis/mis-c.html. Accessed September 3, 2021.
Jiang L, Tang K, et al . COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and adolescents. Lancet Infect Dis. 2020;20(11):e276-e288.
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mis/index.html. Accessed September 3, 2021.
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at: https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/m/mis-c. Accessed September 3, 2021.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
- Review Date: 10/2021
- Update Date: 10/05/2021