50% of children with MIS-C end up in intensive care in Turkey

Nationwide research on children suffering from multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) showed that half of them required intensive care and the average age of children suffering the syndrome is eight.

MIS-C cases prompted concerns in the country where COVID-19 cases saw a sharp rise in recent weeks. The syndrome is commonly seen among children who recovered from COVID-19, though researchers say that not all children infected with coronavirus later suffered from the syndrome.

Izmir Katip Çelebi University’s Dilek Yılmaz Çiftdoğan, a children’s infectious diseases expert, coordinates a working group of Turkish specialists working on the disease at 25 centers across the country. Çiftdoğan says that since April 2020, some 400 children were diagnosed with the syndrome. “If not intervened timely, this disease causes multiple organ failures, particularly in cardiac muscles and veins,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday.

MIS-C manifests itself as various symptoms and recently the most common indication has been constant vomiting and diarrhea. Çiftdoğan says other clinical symptoms resemble meningitis and include headache and joint pains. It also shares symptoms with toxic shock and Kawasaki disease, including fever, rashes, swollen glands, conjunctivitis and, in severe cases, heart inflammation.

The syndrome can occasionally be cured through the administration of drugs to fix the immune system and supplementary therapies. A strict drug regimen often helps recovery.

Çiftdoğan warns parents about the syndrome, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is a more dangerous disease than COVID-19.” She emphasized that parents should teach their children how to use protective masks, how to be cautious about social distancing and hygiene. Children who recovered from COVID-19 or came into contact with a patient with high fever and other symptoms should be examined for MIS-C as well, she noted, adding that “Early diagnosis and correct treatment saves lives.”

The coronavirus pandemic spared kids in its infancy in Turkey but children and the elderly were soon placed in the risk group and their movements were restricted. Children used to recover from COVID-19 without experiencing any symptoms and even if they did, they recovered in a shorter time without much impact on their health, compared to adults. MIS-C was then detected in Europe and the United States last April in children who had recovered from the coronavirus. “It usually emerges within two to six weeks or later after the recovery from coronavirus. It is believed that the syndrome is the result of an abnormal response to coronavirus by the immune system. This response is responsible for organ failures,” Çiftdoğan noted.

Eylül Boyar, a 14-year-old girl living in the southern province of Hatay, is among the MIS-C patients. Boyar had recovered from COVID-19, which claimed the life of her grandfather four months ago, without any symptoms. Her parents were infected as well while she and her two siblings were quarantined. Three months after the infection, she began to suffer from high fever, throat and joint pains. The family took her for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and it came out negative. But a further antibody test turned out positive and doctors diagnosed her with MIS-C. She has been treated at a training and research hospital in the province since early April. “I never knew I had coronavirus. Then, my throat started swelling and I had an itching feeling all over my body. Then came fatigue and pains. Doctors told me that it was MIS-C. I feel better now but I have to continue my treatment at the hospital,” she told AA.

Her mother Ebru says her children were never tested as they did not exhibit symptoms. “But a few months later, she developed a lymph infection. Her lymph was swollen and she started feeling tired. We suspected that it might be coronavirus and had her tested. Doctors told us she had MIS-C. We did not have any idea what it was. It was a difficult process for her and us. I thought she might have had cancer because we never heard of this syndrome,” she says. “Parents should be careful about COVID-19. Don’t believe that the children will be recovered from coronavirus easily all the time,” she added.