Doctors in New York claim that a number of children are suffering from multi-system inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19
Several months ago when the first cases of COVID-19 were being reported out of Wuhan, China, it appeared as though children were being mostly spared from complications of the potentially deadly virus. However, it has become clear that this isn’t the case. The virus just manifests itself differently in children compared to adults. One of the youth-specific symptoms reported by doctors around the world is COVID toes, a discoloration and inflammation appearing on the toes of children and younger patients. This week, another mysterious symptom has gained traction: an inflammation-induced illness health experts are calling pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome.
Ruchika Karnik, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatric cardiologist, explains to Scary Mommy that this latest presentation in children resembles Kawasaki Syndrome, producing symptoms including fever, rash over the body, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, with inflammation causing them. “They have varied involvement of the heart, some with decrease in function of the heart, some with aneurysms of the coronary arteries which are the arteries supplying the heart itself,” she says. She adds that at the time of presentation, children may test positive or negative for COVID-19.
The New York State Department of Health revealed this week there are 64 suspected cases in their state alone. They also add that the link between COVID-19 and the syndrome has not been confirmed.
“As of May 5, 2020, 64 suspected pediatric clinical cases compatible with multi-system inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 have been reported in children in New York State hospitals, including New York City,” they explained in a May 6 statement. They also stressed the importance of treatment. “Early recognition by pediatricians and prompt referral to an in-patient specialist, including to critical care is essential.”
Sadly, on May 8 CBS New York reported the first fatality, a 7-year-old boy in Westchester County who died late last week at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla. According to Dr Michael Gewitz, he suffered neurological complications from pediatric multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome.
The same day, Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced the death of a 5-year-old New York City boy. “Right now we have a new issue that we’re looking at, which is something we’re just investigating now, but, while rare, we’re seeing some cases where children affected with the COVID virus can become ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or Toxic Shock-like syndrome that literally causes inflammation in their blood vessels,” he said. “This past Thursday, a 5-year-old boy passed away from COVID-related complications, and the State Department of Health is investigating several other cases that presents similar circumstances.”
Monday evening, New York City’s health department issued a similar warning, revealing that “15 patients aged 2-15 years” were hospitalized with the condition in late April and early May, with 10 confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.
“We are alerting thousands of providers throughout the city of this recently recognized syndrome in children so that they can be diagnosed and treated early to avoid long-term complications … To parents, if your child has symptoms like fever, rash, abdominal pain or vomiting, call your doctor right away,” New York City’s health commissioner said in a statement to TODAY on Wednesday. According to the outlet, there have been 85 reported cases across the country, including Seattle and California.
Keep in mind that overall, there are very few reports of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome around the world. However, it is still important to be aware of the symptoms and make sure to call your physician immediately if you notice your children exhibiting any of the symptoms.
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.