What is Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome?

There have been a few dozen cases recently in the U.S. and Europe of an inflammatory syndrome in children with COVID-19. This syndrome, which is being called Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome, looks similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome. Kawasaki disease mostly affects children and can be caused by any viral illness. It causes inflammation in arteries, lymph nodes, and mucus membranes. Toxic shock syndrome is a widespread inflammatory response, usually to bacterial infections. 

The symptoms of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in younger children are persistent high fever, rash, and redness or swelling of the eyes and mouth. In older children, symptoms include persistent high fever, stomach pain, and vomiting. Call your doctor if you notice these symptoms. And as always, seek urgent medical care if your child is having trouble breathing, their skin is turning blue, or you can’t wake them up.

While this sounds scary, remember that Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome is still very, very rare. And most kids recover well. Children are still likely to have milder courses of COVID-19 than adults, with fewer symptoms and complications. But rest assured - most children are recovering from COVID-19 just fine!


Science reviewed by: ERS, GSN, JAB
Last updated May 11, 2020 at 12:00pm ET