VANCOUVER — Health officials in British Columbia have confirmed the province’s first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
One child has been confirmed to have the syndrome known as MIS-C, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.
It’s a rare condition believed to be linked to COVID-19. It causes rashes and inflammation, and, if not treated, can damage the heart enough that the patient needs lifelong monitoring.
The child, who is under the age of five, was diagnosed with the syndrome after a serology test came back positive for COVID-19, Henry said.
The child has fully recovered and is at home.
Henry said 16 children have been assessed for MIS-C, but none tested positive for COVID-19 or COVID-19 antibodies.
She said they’re being assessed by pediatricians, but seem to be “much more aligned with what we normally see with Kawasaki syndrome in children.”
Kawasaki syndrome, which also causes rashes and inflammation, can also lead to heart damage, as can toxic shock syndrome.
But research posted by the University of Texas Health Science Center last month suggests MIS-C can cause more inflammation than the other two conditions.
And children who developed MIS-C didn’t necessarily show the respiratory symptoms known to be caused by COVID-19, the research suggested.
In fact, children might not show any symptoms at all in the first few weeks, according the university.
Henry said MIS-C is relatively new, and is associated with infectious illness.
“We’re not entirely sure what the cause of it is,” the doctor said at a news conference.
“Both MIS-C and Kawasaki syndrome are associated with inflammatory processes that happen in the body – particularly the blood vessels – after a person has been infected with viruses, in many cases.”
In August, a B.C. doctor said a patient must be 19 or younger, have had a fever for three or more days and have at least two other inflammatory symptoms to be diagnosed with MIS-C.
“I know it sounds pretty scary, but thankfully it’s a very rare condition and the majority of children completely recover,” Dr. Melissa Lem said at the time.
She advised parents to watch for symptoms, including skin rashes and pink eye, but said generally it’s not something to be concerned about because it’s so uncommon.
Still, she recommended school-age children consider wearing a mask in public, and that anyone not feeling well stay home.
With files from CTVNews.ca’s Brooklyn Neustaeter