Children in NYC are hospitalized with rare syndrome linked to COVID-19

Children in NYC are hospitalized with rare syndrome linked to COVID-19

At least 15 children in New York City have been hospitalized with an unusual inflammatory syndrome possibly related to COVID-19. However, DNA tests and serology tests show that not all of these children have tested positive for COVID-19.

The New York City Health Department alerted doctors in a bulletin that it had identified 15 patients aged 2–15 years old that had been hospitalized with an illness that appeared similar to a rare inflammatory syndrome previously reported in children in European countries. Only about a dozen children have been reported to have the inflammatory syndrome in the UK, according to The Guardian.

The alert urged doctors in the area to immediately report cases to the NYC Health Department if they suspect their patients have this inflammatory syndrome. Doctors should also refer these children to a specialist in pediatric infectious disease, rheumatology or critical care, the alert said.

Intensive care treatment

Symptoms can vary, but are said to be similar to those found in two rare conditions: toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease. Toxic shock syndrome is a life-threatening condition that’s caused by toxins produced by certain types of bacteria. Kawasaki disease is a childhood illness that causes inflammation in blood vessel walls, and in serious cases can cause heart damage, reports Live Science.

The NYC cases all had a fever, and more than half had a rash, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea. Many of the patients also had inflammatory markers in their blood. Some of the children have been admitted to the intensive care unit and required cardiac or respiratory support. However, no deaths have been reported.

Of the 15 cases, four tested positive for COVID-19 using a diagnostic test, and six tested positive using an antibody test (also called a serological test), which shows evidence of a past infection with the virus. This is reported to be similar to the UK cases, in which not all of the children tested positive for COVID-19.

“So far, from what we understand, this is a rare complication in the pediatric population that [doctors] believe is related to COVID-19”, Dr Howard Zucker, the New York State Health Commissioner, told the New York Times.

“Even though the relationship of this syndrome to COVID-19 is not yet defined, and not all of these cases have tested positive for COVID-19 by either DNA test or serology, the clinical nature of this virus is such that we are asking all providers to contact us immediately if they see patients who meet the criteria we’ve outlined”, Dr Oxiris Barbot, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said in a statement, the Times reported.

The advice to parents was that if your child has symptoms like fever, rash, abdominal pain or vomiting, call your doctor right away.

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