Health officials are sharing new information about the pediatric inflammatory illness linked to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with 14 states now investigating cases.
New York State has the most cases with 102.
Other states now investigating cases are Connecticut, New Jersey, California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington. So far, those states have not yet released details on the cases.
The illness displays symptoms similar to those of Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome.
"Pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome (PMIS) is a new health condition appearing in children in New York and elsewhere," officials said. "Some doctors think the condition is related to having COVID-19, but the connection is still not clear."
Since the recent rash of PMIS in New York children, there have been three reported deaths, a 5-year-old boy in New York City, a 7-year-old Westchester boy and an 18-year-old girl in Suffolk County.
During his daily COVID-19 news briefing on Wednesday, May 13 at Jefferson Community College in Watertown (north of Syracuse), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that of the 102 patients with the pediatric illness, 60 percent tested positive for COVID-19, 40 percent tested positive for antibodies, and 14 percent tested positive for both.
Of the 102 cases, 57 percent were between the ages of 5 and 17, and 41 percent were African American or Hispanic.
“First we were told that children are not impacted by the COVID virus, but now we’re finding out that may not be 100 percent either, and New York may just be the tip of the arrow here,” Cuomo said. “We’ve lost three children as a result of this, and we’re seeing the cases predominantly where the (largest) population is.”
Cuomo said that earlier this week, New York Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker sent an alert to 49 other state health departments and did a nationwide call to warn of the recent uptick in inflammatory cases.
Five European counties - Spain, France, England, Italy, and Switzerland - have also reported cases of the illness.
“Parents who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have reasons to believe their children have been exposed to COVID-19 should take heightened precautions and seek medical attention should symptoms arise,” Cuomo said. “Hospitals have been directed by the Department of Health to prioritize COVID-19 testing for children presenting symptoms.”
Predominant symptoms of the COVID-19-related illness, according to the Department of Health, include:
- Prolonged fever of more than five days;
- Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting;
- Bloodshot eyes;
- Skin rash.
Other symptoms include:
- Change in skin color - becoming pale, patchy, and/or blue;
- Difficulty feeding (infants) or is too sick to drink fluids;
- Trouble breathing or is breathing very quickly;
- Racing heart or chest pain;
- Lethargy, irritability, or confusion.
Cuomo noted that the NY Department of Health is hosting a statewide webinar this week to discuss symptoms, testing, and care for the illness. They are also working to conduct a genome and RNA sequencing study to understand COVID-19-related illnesses in children and the possible genetic basis of the syndrome.
“As a parent, this is your worst nightmare ... because we thought that children weren’t especially affected by the virus, and now several weeks later we find out that might not be true,” he said. “It’s truly disturbing, and we only raise the point because it’s something parents should be aware of.
“Should parents be concerned,” Cuomo added. “They should be aware.”
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