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The State of New York issued an alert on a new disease impacting children called the “Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with COVID-19.”
New Yorkers should seek immediate care if a child has:
• Prolonged fever (more than five days)
• Difficulty feeding (infants) or is too sick to drink fluids
• Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
• Change in skin color — becoming pale, patchy and/or blue
• Trouble breathing or is breathing very quickly
• Racing heart or chest pain
• Decreased amount of frequency in urine
• Lethargy, irritability or confusion
The State Department of Health, which is investigating several cases of severe illness in children and child deaths that may be related to COVID-19, shared that there have been reported cases in New York where children are experiencing symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome possibly due to COVID-19. The illness has taken the lives of three young New Yorkers, including a 5-year old in New York City, a 7-year old in Westchester County and a teenager in Suffolk County
“There’s still so much we don’t know about COVID-19, and in the beginning we were led to believe that the good news about this virus was it didn’t affect children,” Governor Cuomo said. “Now we have a new issue that we’re looking at where some children affected with the COVID-19 virus are becoming ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or toxic-shock-like syndrome.”
The City of New York has 110 confirmed cases so far.
“Of the cases that have been verified, 47 percent of the kids involved tested positive for the coronavirus at that point,” Mayor de Blasio said. “Of those who tested negative, 81 percent had the antibody. So, had been exposed at some previous point. So that’s telling our doctors and our scientists a lot; this is something we really need to focus on and address.”
The disease was first identified in the UK about three weeks ago, according to NYC Health Department Commissioner Barbot.
“With this infectious inflammatory syndrome, we’re still learning quite a bit about how it manifests,” Commissioner Barbot said. “And we issued a health alert that goes out to thousands and thousands of clinicians, doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners in the city alerting them to letting us know if they have patients that meet certain criteria —that we want them to let us know.”
Barbot is also advising parents to be vigilant and seek medical attention if their children show these symptoms.
“The important thing here is we are very much focused on first and foremost, ensuring that parents are aware of potential early-warning symptoms, such as prolonged fever, that rash, kids being really cranky, having bright red lips, and what we typically think of as a strawberry tongue. These kids look really sick.”
All NYC hospitals public, private and independent, are mandated to test children with these symptoms.
“At our Health + Hospitals facilities children will be tested both for the antigen — which is what people think of as what they get when the nasal swab — a PCR test, and the antibody tests,” NYC Health + Hospitals President President Katz said. “And the significance is that this is a syndrome that we think may occur after a child is infected. So we don’t want clinicians to send just the nasal swab, [and] have it be negative for the antigen. And then the doctor thinks, ‘Oh, this is unrelated to COVID,’ when in fact it may still be related to COVID, because the child may have had an actual infection some weeks earlier and had they had a nasal swab at that time, it may have been a positive. So in this case, the antigen and the antibody provide different, but complimentary, pieces of information”
If your child has symptoms including persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain, or vomiting, call your doctor immediately. If you don’t have a doctor, call 311 to be connected to a doctor.