NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A potentially serious development in the COVID-19 pandemic has experts very worried.
It's an adult version of the mysterious inflammatory disease that has hit some children with the coronavirus.
The childhood disease is called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, MIS-C for short.
Now the CDC is alerting doctors that there may be a similar syndrome in adults, MIS-A, which can cause multiple organ failure, CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reports.
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That's worrisome because it could strike even the millions who have been infected and recovered from COVID-19. Of the 8 million confirmed U.S. cases of the coronavirus, the vast majority appear to fully recover or even be asymptomatic.
But now hospitals are starting to see patients who mostly test negative for the virus but have COVID antibodies, meaning they had unknowingly been infected and recovered at some point. But now they are very sick.
"They have organ dysfunction. Some of them have gastrointestinal issues. Some of them are short of breath because of heart failure, it affects the heart. Some of them have liver, liver problems," said Dr. Hugh Cassiere, of Northwell Health's Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital.
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What they have in common is rampant inflammation, possibly a delayed immune system overreaction to the earlier coronavirus infection. Frighteningly, this could mean that some -- it's unknown how many -- of the 8 million and growing COVID-infected Americans could later develop the potentially life-threatening MIS-A.
"We're going to start seeing more and more of these patients again," Cassiere said. "Oh yeah, this is very worrisome."
These MIS-A patients do seem to get better with steroids and antibodies -- not the antibodies that have been developed specifically against the coronavirus but a drug called IV-IGG. The key is doctors have to recognize the syndrome early to treat it.
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