Distinguishing Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children from COVID-19, Kawasaki Disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome

Shana Godfred-Cato, Joseph Y. Abrams, Neha Balachandran, Preeti Jaggi, Kaitlin Jones, Christina A. Rostad, Austin T. Lu, Lucie Fan, Aysha Jabbar, Evan J. Anderson, Carol M. Kao, David A. Hunstad, Robert B. Rosenberg, Marc J. Zafferani, Kaleo C. Ede, Wassim Ballan, Federico R. Laham, Yajira Beltran, Bobbi Bryant, Lu MengTeresa A. Hammett, Matthew E. Oster, Sapna Bamrah Morris, Ermias D. Belay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: Distinguishing multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children MIS-C from coronavirus disease 2019 COVID-19, Kawasaki disease KD, and toxic shock syndrome TSS can be challenging. Because clinical management of these conditions can vary, timely and accurate diagnosis is essential. Methods: Data were collected from patients <21 years of age hospitalized with MIS-C, COVID-19, KD, and TSS in 4 major health care institutions. Patient demographics and clinical and laboratory data were compared among the 4 conditions, and a diagnostic scoring tool was developed to assist in clinical diagnosis. Results: A total of 233 patients with MIS-C, 102 with COVID-19, 101 with KD, and 76 with TSS were included in the analysis. Patients with MIS-C had the highest prevalence of decreased cardiac function 38.6%, myocarditis 34.3%, pericardial effusion 38.2%, mitral regurgitation 31.8% and pleural effusion 34.8% compared with patients with the other conditions. Patients with MIS-C had increased peak levels of C-reactive protein and decreased platelets and lymphocyte nadir counts compared with patients with COVID-19 and KD and elevated levels of troponin, brain natriuretic peptide and pro-brain natriuretic peptide compared with COVID-19. Diagnostic scores utilizing clinical findings effectively distinguished MIS-C from COVID-19, KD, and TSS, with internal validation showing area under the curve ranging from 0.87 to 0.97. Conclusions: Compared with COVID-19, KD, and TSS, patients with MIS-C had significantly higher prevalence of cardiac complications, elevated markers of inflammation and cardiac damage, thrombocytopenia, and lymphopenia. Diagnostic scores can be a useful tool for distinguishing MIS-C from COVID-19, KD, and TSS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-323
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Kawasaki disease
  • MIS-C
  • TSS


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