Like multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), MIS-A is a serious condition that can inflame some parts of the body, such as the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, digestive system, brain, skin or eyes. Inflammation typically includes swelling, often with redness and pain.
With both the children and adult syndromes, many but not all patients test negative for a COVID-19 infection. Yet evidence indicates that many of these patients were infected with COVID-19 in the past, as shown by positive antibody test results.
Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases expert, explains what is known about the condition that he refers to as a medical and scientific enigma.
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Gregory Poland are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy "Gregory Poland, M.D. / Vaccine Research Group / Mayo Clinic."
"The typical case, as we understand it right now, is somebody who comes in with rapidly deteriorating multiorgan failure with very little or no respiratory symptoms. And the reason for that is they've been infected in the past two to six weeks, but are not infected now. They have antibodies but negative swabs. So it appears to be something related to the ongoing immune response or the antibodies that were created," says Dr. Poland.
What's not yet known is what's causing it and what can be done about it. Dr. Poland says this is another example of why this virus should not be taken lightly.
"Even after infection in what appears to be recovery mode, people can develop this multisystem inflammatory syndrome weeks later. And that's a very unusual thing for a viral infection like this. So we're learning every week about the incredible harm that this virus is capable of doing," says Dr. Poland.
This is another reason to take COVID-19 precautions seriously, Dr. Poland says.
"I just think that we're all getting tired of COVID and there's a, you know, kind of COVID fatigue, and we're tempted to cut corners. And I certainly see it. I sometimes feel it myself. And I think we just need to be vigilant. If you care about your health and those around you, wear a mask, maintain physical distancing. Wash your hand, get your flu vaccine, and those are the things that we can do that are helpful."
Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.