Artwork by Ellie Gabriel.
If you’re young, you might think you’re safe from the more life-threatening effects of COVID-19. But two recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine document a new, life-threatening COVID-related complication that impacts young people the most: multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
In total, the two studies described nearly 300 patients under 21 who, two to four weeks SARS-CoV-2 infection, reported severe illness. As the name implies, MIS-C is characterized by inflammation throughout the entire body. The effects—which parallel those of other acute conditions such as toxic shock syndrome—range from fevers, elevated heart rate, and rashes to gastrointestinal distress and coronary-artery aneurysms. In total, 80% of patients required intensive care. The two studies’ findings are corroborated by case reports from around the world.
Doctors are still unsure of how or why MIS-C happens. But for young people, the implications should be clear: stay at home or wear a mask—if not for grandma, then for yourself.