Arizona sees cases of coronavirus-linked inflammatory condition in children

As cases of the novel coronavirus continue to surge in Arizona, the state has also reported seeing a rare but serious inflammatory condition in children that experts think is likely linked to COVID-19.

Banner Health in Pheonix has reported cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), The Arizona Republic reported, adding that cases have also been identified in Tucson.

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"All of the pediatric centers around the state are on the lookout for anything that looks like this MIS-C," Dr. David Moromisato, the chief medical officer for Banner Desert and Cardon Children's medical centers, told the outlet. 

MIS-C is an inflammatory condition that is similar to Kawasaki disease, which causes swelling in arteries throughout the body. However, the two conditions are not the same, and MIS-C has largely been reported in children who have been infected with or exposed to COVID-19.

MIS-C typically causes inflammation in the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. MIS-C can also cause persistent fever, rashes, vomiting and diarrhea, among other symptoms such as a red tongue and eyes.

"We are seeing it from an epidemiological standpoint in areas where COVID hits hard, and then four to six weeks later we see this inflammatory syndrome show up in children," said Dr. Josh Koch, division chief of pediatric critical care medicine at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

"We do know for the most part pediatric patients aren't severely affected by COVID. So it may be that they had this infection for a while and nobody noticed, and then they see the multisystem inflammatory syndrome and they test for COVID and they've got it,” he added.

When a child is suffering from MIS-C, Koch said that "a lot of subspecialties” go into treating the patient, as it's a “very complicated disease.”

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"Experts in infectious disease, rheumatology, critical care, experts in cardiology, they are all coming together to take care of these children,” he continued.

The news comes after a study found that MIS-C is indeed a new condition, with researchers in a paper published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association identifying the main symptoms and clinical markers.