Cuomo concerned about new Covid-related illness in children

Posted 9 May 2020 at 3:00 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Photo by Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor – Andrew M. Cuomo speaks today in New York City.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that at the request of the CDC, the state is helping to develop the national criteria for identifying and responding to Covid-related illness.

The State Department of Health is also partnering with the NY Genome Center and Rockefeller University to conduct a genome and RNA sequencing study to better understand Covid-related illnesses in children and the possible genetic basis of this syndrome.

There have been 73 reported cases in New York where children – predominantly school-aged – 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.

“We now have a new issue that has come up in the fight against Covid-19 that is truly disturbing and it impacts our youngest New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is a frightening new development, but rest assured we are doing everything we can to learn more and keep parents informed.”

At the direction of Governor Cuomo, the State Department of Health has issued an advisory about this serious inflammatory disease, called “Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with Covid-19,” to inform healthcare providers of the condition, as well as to provide guidance for testing and reporting.

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

Health care providers, including hospitals, are required to report to the Department of Health all cases of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome potentially associated with COVID-19 in those under 21 years of age.

Though most children who get Covid-19 experience only mild symptoms, in the United Kingdom, a possible link has also been reported between pediatric Covid-19 and serious inflammatory disease. The inflammatory syndrome has features which overlap with Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome and may occur days to weeks after acute Covid-19 illness. It can include persistent fever, abdominal symptoms, rash, and even cardiovascular symptoms requiring intensive care.

Early recognition by pediatricians and referral to a specialist including to critical care is essential. Molecular and serological testing for Covid-19 in children exhibiting the above symptoms is recommended. The majority of patients have tested positive for Covid-19, some on molecular testing for SARS-COV-2, others on serological testing.

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