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COVID-19–associated multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children — United States, March–July 2020
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    What is already known about this topic? Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a rare but severe condition that has been reported approximately 2–4 weeks after the onset of COVID-19 in children and adolescents.

    What is added by this report? Most cases of MIS-C have features of shock, with cardiac involvement, gastrointestinal symptoms, and significantly elevated markers of inflammation, with positive laboratory test results for SARS-CoV-2. Of the 565 patients who underwent SARS-CoV-2 testing, all had a positive test result by RT-PCR or serology.

    What are the implications for public health practice? Distinguishing MIS-C from other severe infectious or inflammatory conditions poses a challenge to clinicians caring for children and adolescents. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to expand in many jurisdictions, health care provider awareness of MIS-C will facilitate early recognition, early diagnosis, and prompt treatment.

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    In April 2020, during the peak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Europe, a cluster of children with hyperinflammatory shock with features similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome was reported in England* (1). The patients’ signs and symptoms were temporally associated with COVID-19 but presumed to have developed 2–4 weeks after acute COVID-19; all children had serologic evidence of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (1). The clinical signs and symptoms present in this first cluster included fever, rash, conjunctivitis, peripheral edema, gastrointestinal symptoms, shock, and elevated markers of inflammation and cardiac damage (1). On May 14, 2020, CDC published an online Health Advisory that summarized the manifestations of reported multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), outlined a case definition,† and asked clinicians to report suspected U.S. cases to local and state health departments. As of July 29, a total of 570 U.S. MIS-C patients who met the case definition had been reported to CDC. A total of 203 (35.6%) of the patients had a clinical course consistent with previously published MIS-C reports, characterized predominantly by shock, cardiac dysfunction, abdominal pain, and markedly elevated inflammatory markers, and almost all had positive SARS-CoV-2 test results. The remaining 367 (64.4%) of MIS-C patients had manifestations that appeared to overlap with acute COVID-19 (2–4), had a less severe clinical course, or had features of Kawasaki disease.§ Median duration of hospitalization was 6 days; 364 patients (63.9%) required care in an intensive care unit (ICU), and 10 patients (1.8%) died. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to expand in many jurisdictions, clinicians should be aware of the signs and symptoms of MIS-C and report suspected cases to their state or local health departments; analysis of reported cases can enhance understanding of MIS-C and improve characterization of the illness for early detection and treatment.

    Local and state health departments reported suspected MIS-C patients to CDC using CDC’s MIS-C case report form, which included information on patient demographics, clinical findings, and laboratory test results. Patients who met the MIS-C case definition and were reported to CDC as of July 29, 2020, were included in the analysis. Latent class analysis (LCA), a statistical modeling technique that can divide cases into groups by underlying similarities, was used to identify and describe differing manifestations in patients who met the MIS-C case definition. The indicator variables used in the LCA were the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2–positive test results by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or serology, shock, pneumonia, and involvement of organ systems (i.e., cardiovascular, dermatologic, gastrointestinal, hematologic, neurologic, renal, or respiratory). Three-class LCA was conducted using the R software package “poLCA” with 100 iterations to identify the optimal classification scheme (5). Clinical and demographic variables were reported for patients by LCA class. Chi-squared or Fisher’s exact tests were used to compare proportions of categorical variables; numeric variables, with medians and interquartile ranges, were compared using the Kruskal-Wallis rank sum test.

    As of July 29, 2020, a total of 570 MIS-C patients with onset dates from March 2 to July 18, 2020, had been reported from 40 state health departments, the District of Columbia, and New York City (Figure). The median patient age was 8 years (range = 2 weeks–20 years); 55.4% were male, 40.5% were Hispanic or Latino (Hispanic), 33.1% were non-Hispanic black (black), and 13.2% non-Hispanic white (white) (Table 1). Obesity was the most commonly reported underlying medical condition, occurring in 30.5% of Hispanic, 27.5% of black, and 6.6% of white MIS-C patients.

    Suggested citation for this article: Godfred-Cato S, Bryant B, Leung J, et al. COVID-19–Associated Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children — United States, March–July 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 7 August 2020

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