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What is a multi-system inflammatory state?

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

What is a multi-system inflammatory state?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Meaning, how it affects, symptoms and ways to prevent it.

Context: Doctors have picked up a slight rise in the number of children of all ages needing intensive care treatment for a condition called “multi-system inflammatory state”.

The rise has happened over the past three weeks in London and elsewhere in the UK.

What is a multi-system inflammatory state?

It’s a severe immune response that can affect the body in multiple ways, most importantly by making the blood vessels leaky, a condition called Kawasaki disease.

This leads to low blood pressure and a build-up of fluid in the lungs and organs.

It is extremely serious. Patients need urgent intensive care to support the heart, lungs and sometimes other organs such as the kidneys.

Are there other symptoms?

The children have overlapping symptoms of toxic shock syndrome (another extreme immune reaction) and unusual Kawasaki disease.

Other symptoms include abdominal pain, gastrointestinal problems and heart inflammation.


There is no evidence that the condition is caused by any change in the virus, as that would have shown up in adults first.

But it may be a post-infection inflammatory response triggered by the coronavirus. This has been seen in adults, who tend to be more ill in the second phase of the infection, when the initial lung disease gives way to inflammatory damage.

Is this disease related to Covid-19?

Only some of the children with these symptoms tested positive for Covid-19. Therefore, it remains unclear if and how the inflammatory syndrome is related to the virus.

What is TSS?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare life-threatening condition caused when certain bacteria enter the body and release harmful toxins. If not treated in time, the condition could be fatal. Symptoms include high temperature, flu-like symptoms including headache, sore throat, cough, diarrhea, dizziness or fainting, difficulty breathing and confusion. Some patients suffering from TSS may need ICU admissions.

What is Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease is an acute inflammatory disease of the blood vessels and usually occurs in children below the age of five.

  • The inflammation caused by the disease affects many parts of the body but has a more serious effect on the heart since it causes inflammation in the coronary arteries that are responsible for supplying blood to the heart.
  • This results in enlargement or in the formation of aneurysms that can lead to heart attacks. Symptoms include fever, changes in extremities, rashes, redness of the cornea, red and cracked lips, a red tongue and lymph node enlargement of the neck.

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Prelims Link:

  1. What is MSIM?
  2. What is TSS?
  3. What is Kawasaki disease?
  4. Which organs are mainly affected by Corona Virus?
  5. What is Cytokine storm?

Sources: Indian Express.