At least 93 children in New York state have been diagnosed with a rare and poorly understood inflammatory disease thought to be tied to Covid-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, suggesting an uptick in the mysterious ailment.
Calling the situation “truly disturbing,” on Tuesday Cuomo said state health officials are investigating the spate of new patients who’ve come down with “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome,” which has already killed three children in New York.
“New York State is now investigating about 100 cases of an inflammatory illness in children that may be related to Covid-19,” the governor said in a tweet, adding that the illness affects those between infancy and 21 years of age and asking parents to look out for a series of symptoms, including vomiting, changes in skin color and prolonged fever.
New York State is now investigating about 100 cases of an inflammatory illness in children that may be related to COVID-19.The ages of these cases range from infancy to age 21.We ask parents to watch out for these symptoms: pic.twitter.com/lhzjproZYd
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 12, 2020
At one Long Island hospital, two to three children show up each day with the potentially lethal inflammatory syndrome, many of them requiring immediate intensive treatment, Dr James Schneider – chief of pediatric critical care medicine at a hospital in Long Island’s New Hyde Park – told Newsday.
While little is known about the illness – which has shown similar features to Kawasaki disease, another inflammatory disorder – researchers believe it could be linked to the body’s immune response to Covid-19, as many patients tested positive for the virus at some point.
“This phenomenon starts weeks after infection,” Schneider said. “It all makes sense that now they are showing up – at least from what we think we understand about this illness.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also issued a stark warning about the new disease on Tuesday, announcing that the city had seen a spike in cases, counting 52 patients in total with ten others pending diagnosis. “This is a major concern. Take this seriously,” he said, urging parents to “CALL YOUR DOCTOR” if their children show symptoms.
Since we put out our health alert, we’ve been getting more reports of cases of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome related to COVID-19 in children. This is a major concern. Take this seriously.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 12, 2020
Given that the city’s schools will be closed until at least next fall, however, the mayor has clarified that the syndrome would be unlikely to affect plans to reopen.
Despite the apparent spike in cases, some experts have urged caution before declaring the disease the next epidemic, noting the inflammatory syndrome remains rare and may be caused by a number of similar or overlapping disorders, rather than a single illness.
Anne Rowley, a professor of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told RT it’s not yet clear whether each case had the same cause, suggesting some may be linked to Covid-19, while others may have been brought on by toxic shock syndrome, which can result from bacterial infection.
Though the mysterious inflammatory syndrome and its possible connection to the coronavirus are still not fully understood, as cases climb, New York’s Department of Health has issued an advisory about the illness, requiring doctors statewide to report all cases in patients under the age of 21 in hopes of gathering more information.
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