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2-4 weeks after COVID-19, doctors are seeing rare inflammatory syndrome in a some children

Vanderbilt Children's Hospital
Posted at 6:01 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 21:47:36-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Monroe Carell Jr. Children's hospital doctors say some children are being diagnosed with a rare inflammatory syndrome right after they recover from COVID-19.

There have been fewer than 10 reported cases in Tennessee of multi-inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children, but doctors believe those cases are linked to COVID-19. "We’re seeing that about 90% of children with MIS-C have tested positive for COVID, has an exposure, or has positive antibodies, so it’s something we are actively looking for as well," Dr. English Flack said.

Editor's Note: MIS-C is rare. Fewer than 10 cases have been reported in the state, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. We want to be very clear about the rareness of this disease.

But doctors here in Nashville, who spend their lives studying disease, believe the two are related, and MIS-C can be serious and life threatening. In addition, nationally, the disease has disproportionately impacted Black and Hispanic communities, according to the hospital.

We understand there is a lot of concern around how COVID-19 is reported, and the seriousness of the disease. We are posting this story because we believe that, even given the rareness of this disease, that the information, from local medical experts, is newsworthy for families.

-Catlin Bogard, NewsChannel 5 Digital Director

Dr. Flack is on a team that's helping 5 children with multi-inflammatory syndrome at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. "It's confusing for families to have so many providers many times, and so many people involved in their child’s care, but right now that’s how we’re collecting our information, it’s how we’re taking the best care of the child, and hopefully getting all these children well, and following them safely back into their daily life."

In the state of Tennessee, the children diagnosed with the inflammatory syndrome are all okay. Usually, several organs are involved. Across the country, nearly 800 children have been diagnosed, and 16 have died.

Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, neck pain, and a rash to name a few. "The unknowns are really the concern," Flack said, "Some patients can have swelling of the hands or feet." According to the hospital, the symptoms are believed to develop 2-4 weeks after COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Flack said it's treatable in most cases. "What’s most important, though, is we need to prevent it from happening in the first place, and that’s where we need social distancing and masking, and just being socially responsible, so that we don’t spread this, and put more children at risk for having this."

In 70% of reported cases nationwide, the children are Black or Hispanic. At TriStar Centennial Hospital, they've treated 3 suspected cases as well.