New global health warning about, MIS-C, rare inflammatory syndrome in children

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Friday, 24 hours after the CDC issued its own warning, the World Health Organization issued a global health alert about a dangerous inflammatory condition affecting children.

The COVID-19-associated inflammatory syndrome in children was at first connected to Kawasaki Disease because of the overlap in symptoms. In fact, a Bay Area baby, who is now healthy, was diagnosed with Kawasaki and COVID-19 back in March. She was believed to be the first recognized case.

RELATED: Bay Area baby believed to be 1st to contract both Kawasaki Disease and COVID-19

Now, distinctions are emerging. Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C, seems to affect older children, median age 9 to 11, whereas Kawasaki tends to affect toddlers. MIS-C can also be more severe.

"This new syndrome MIS-C is a novel unique syndrome that is not Kawasaki," said Dr. Tara Greenhow, a pediatric infectious disease specialist for Kaiser Permanente in the Bay Area.

"It appears to follow a COVID-19 infection, but why it is occurring in a small subset of children? We do not understand."

ABC News has identified at least 220 possible and confirmed cases in 20 states, plus D.C. There are more than 100 cases in New York, where three children have died.

RELATED: Children's Hospital LA reports 3 cases of mysterious syndrome in kids linked to COVID-19

"The good news is that this syndrome appears to be rare and the deaths that are associated with it are even rarer," said Dr. Greenhow, who added, "I anticipate we'll be better able to treat it and recognize it in the weeks and months to come."

Along with pediatricians across the country, Dr. Lisa Dana with Golden Gate Pediatrics, attended a virtual conference with the New York State Department of Health this week. She learned that all children with MIS-C have a fever and "more than 90% have had severe stomach aches, half have had rash, two thirds have had pink eye, two thirds have had mouth changes, cracked lips."

One of Dr. Dana's biggest concerns is that in an attempt to avoid exposure to coronavirus, families are avoiding needed trips to the doctor. "If you need to go to the ER go, if you need to go to your doctor go and don't be afraid to call and get that advice. We are here for you."

Children are presenting with MISC-C 4 to 6 weeks after peak COVID-19 infection rates. So, doctors say the best thing you can do for your family is to continue following recommendations about social distancing, masks, and hygiene, to avoid contracting COVID-19 in the first place.

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