Months after discovering a “multisystem inflammatory syndrome” related to COVID-19 in children, health officials warn that a similar condition can affect adults as well.
On Friday October 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report describing Adult Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, or (MIS-A). Like the syndrome in children, MIS-A is a serious condition that targets multiple organs and causes increased inflammation in the body, according to the report. And with both syndromes, many patients either test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, or have antibodies against it, which suggests a recent infection.
Currently, MIS-A rarely appears, like its counterpart in children. The new CDC report identifies around 20 cases of MIS-A.
The new report, published in the journal CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, urges doctors to consider a diagnosis of MIS-A in adults with compatible signs and symptoms. “Ultimately, the recognition of MIS-A reinforces the need for preventive measures to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2,” the authors concluded.
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Reports of a mysterious inflammatory syndrome in children first surfaced in the spring, and doctors dubbed MIS-C disease or “multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.” Children with this rare multi-organ syndrome that often involves hospitalization may experience fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, and fatigue according to the CDC. To date, the CDC has received reports of 935 cases of MIS-C in the US, including 19 deaths. The official definition of MIS-C is an age limit of 20 years and cases have been observed in children, adolescents, and young adults.
A similar syndrome was reported in adults during the summer. The new CDC report describes 27 cases of MIS-A in the US and UK. 16 of these cases are detailed, nine of which have been officially reported to the CDC and seven have been described in published case reports.
Among the 16 cases, the patients were between 21 and 50 years old. Only one case has been reported in the UK, the rest in the US, including cases in Maine, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, New York, Massachusetts and Texas.
Some symptoms in adults were similar to children, including fever, gastrointestinal symptoms, and rash. Some patients reported chest pain or palpitations, and all had raised markers of inflammation. All patients had a positive COVID-19 test or a positive antibody test. According to the report, ten patients had to be treated in the intensive care unit and two patients died.
The results “show that adult patients of all ages with current or previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 can develop a hyperinflammatory syndrome similar to MIS-C,” the authors wrote.
The authors note that hospital patients with COVID-19 in general can experience inflammation and effects on organs outside the lungs. In most cases, however, these effects are associated with serious breathing problems. However, with MIS-A, the patients did not experience severe respiratory symptoms. Of the 16 patients, half had no respiratory symptoms and only half had mild symptoms.
Worryingly, of 22 patients in the study for whom race / ethnicity information was available, all but one were from a minority.
“Long-standing health and social inequalities have led to an increased risk of infection and serious consequences of COVID-19 in color communities,” the authors say. A similar trend was seen in children with MIS-C – more than 70% of reported cases in the US were Hispanic or black children, according to the CDC.
The underlying causes of MIS-C and MIS-A are unknown. But 30% of the adults in the current report and 45% of a sample of 440 children with MIS-C tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 but positive for antibodies to the virus, “suggesting that MIS-A and MIS-C could represent a post-infectious process, “the authors wrote. Further research is needed to understand the precise causes of this disease and its long-term effects.
Originally posted on Live Science.
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