On Monday, four new cases of the mysterious COVID-19 related illness, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C were diagnosed in Los Angeles.

This announcement was followed by news on Tuesday regarding the death of a 15-year-old African-American girl in Baltimore, Maryland who succumbed to MIS-C.

COVID-19 cases average two percent nationally for persons under the age of 18; yet this statistic offers little comfort to parents in Los Angeles whose children are currently battling MIS-C.

MIS-C has surfaced as a COVID-19 related threat to children which appears to occur  in the weeks following an initial bout with the virus.

CDC is reporting children appear to develop MIS-C four to six weeks following their initial presentation with COVID-19; and further stressed MIS-C is also being diagnosed in children who were previously asymptomatic.

In instances where children were asymptomatically infected, their parents/caretakers may not even know they were infected.

Those with MIS-C show a variety of signs and symptoms including a persistent fever. Other indicators include multiorgan involvement ranging from cardiac, gastrointestinal, renal, hematologic, dermatologic and/or neurologic. Respiratory symptoms were not seen in all cases diagnosed to date; and the CDC also confirmed children with MIS-C have elevated inflammatory markers.

What makes identifying this illness such a challenge is not all children with the illness will have the same symptoms and some children may have symptoms not listed by the CDC.

A Health Advisory regarding MIS-C published by the CDC on May 14, 2020 included information describing what was observed in the United Kingdom (U.K.) in relation to the syndrome. The country recognized increased reports of previously healthy children presenting with a severe inflammatory syndrome.

“The cases occurred in children testing positive for current or recent infection by SARS-CoV-2—the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC noted.

Although the number of cases observed in the U.K. was extremely limited (eight) the demographic information reflected what was observed in the small number of MIS-C cases in New York as reported by Black Voice News last week, where 22 percent of MIS-C cases were identified in Black children. U.K. findings to date similarly reflect a disparate impact on Black children.

“In the limited sample of eight children [with MIS-C], 75 percent of the patients were of Afro-Caribbean descent and 62.5 percent were male,” the agency noted. All the children tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies and one child was deceased.

In both the U.S. and U.K. although sample sizes are too small to draw any real conclusions, details to date certainly warrant monitoring, especially since African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 overall and this appears to be holding true for Black children in relation to MIS-C.  

The CDC has acknowledged there is limited information available about this illness including its risk factors, pathogenesis (what leads to the illness), clinical course, and treatment. The agency is requesting healthcare providers report all suspected cases of the illness to public health authorities to better characterize this newly recognized condition in the pediatric population.

Despite what remains unknown about MIS-C and acknowledging children have died, if there is any silver lining in this dark unknown, it is despite the severity of the illness, the majority of children diagnosed and treated for MIS-C to date—have survived.

Health experts strongly encourage parents to remain vigilant. The CDC has stressed, when identified and treated early the chances of survival are great.

The Black Voice News will continue to follow this story.