Healthy Kids - Summer 2021

UNDERSTANDING MIS-C One rare but serious COVID-19 complication that ’s arisen is multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MIS-C is “a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired.” While there is no known cause for MIS-C, the link to COVID-19 is clear. “MIS-C appears to be a late effect of being infected with the COVID-19 virus,” explains Mark Sawyer, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s and professor of clinical pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “It ’s really different from anything we’ve seen before, but it ’s most similar to Kawasaki disease in appearance. At this point, we don’t understand why it happens, as it ’s not been described with any other respiratory virus.” MIS-C symptoms typically last for a few days to a week or more, and require special treatment to decrease inflammation and pacify the immune response. While MIS-C is associated with COVID-19, it can appear “seemingly out of the blue,” Dr. Sawyer says. The child may not have shown symptoms for COVID-19, “but when we test them, we find evidence that they were infected. The usual time period is a few weeks before the MIS-C symptoms turn up.” While there’s nothing specific that parents can do to prevent MIS-C, other than the COVID-19 precautions we’ve been practicing already, vaccination against COVID-19 and early detection are both key. “At any point, if your child has persistent fever, diarrhea or abdominal pain, they need to be evaluated,” Dr. Sawyer says. “Those could be early signs of MIS-C, and like most things, the earlier we start treating it, the better.”

Dr. Knight found joy in connecting with the people they served—for instance, the group of churchgoers who wanted to “adopt” the population health team, and the 63-year- old man who was terrified of needles but excited to get a dinosaur bandage—and the satisfaction of knowing she made a difference. “I’m forever grateful to Rady Children’s for the visibility I have, and the opportunity to influence lives across all races, ethnicities and ages,” she says. “It has been truly special to be part of this effort.” WE ARE A CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, AND WE’RE USED TO SPEAKING TO PEOPLE IN A COMPASSIONATE WAY. IT’S WHAT WE DO EVERY DAY . IT HAS BEEN TRULY SPECIAL TO BE PART OF THIS EFFORT. — GAIL KNIGHT, MD, MMM, RADY CHILDREN’S SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER

Dr. Knight (center) led a grassroots effort to vaccinate high-risk community members


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