More NJ cases of mystery child illness: How worried should parents be?
There is growing concern among New Jersey parents about an emerging health threat to kids related to COVID-19.
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children remains rare. There have been fewer than 40 confirmed cases reported in New Jersey since the COVID-19 health emergency began in March, but no deaths.
Some young children who develop MISC are brought to the hospital in shock or suffering from heart failure, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, rash, red eyes and diarrhea.
Dr. Jen Owensby, interim medical director of RWJ’s Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital in New Brunswick, said anti-inflammatory therapies have been used to treat this syndrome, which is similar to Kawasaki’s disease. Therapies include intravenous immunoglobulin and steroids and drugs known as biologics that suppress the immune system.
Dr. Sue Mah, medical director of Pediatric Care at AtlantiCare’s Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said these therapeutics work well along with aspirin.
Owensby said children who develop MISC have all had COVID-19 infections or antibodies.
“But right now that’s all it is — an association. We don’t know the cause and effect situation yet," she said.
She noted most kids who get COVID-19 do not develop MISC.
Mah said parents should be educated about MISC but “I don’t think that the average parent really needs to be concerned that their particular child is going to develop this complication."
“MISC itself is not contagious," she said. "It’s almost like an auto-immune syndrome where the body had been exposed to an infection, in this case COVID-19, and is now attacking itself.”
She added if we do see a spike in coronavirus cases among kids after daycare and camps open, it’s possible there may also be an increase in MISC.
Mah said if parents are concerned about MISC or any other potential threat they should “keep in contact with their pediatrician and discuss things with them and realize they have those community resources to go to.”
She added that parents should teach their kids about the importance of washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, wearing a mask in public and using hand sanitizer if they can’t wash their hands.
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