Fifteen children in New York City have been hospitalized with an unknown illness that may be linked to the coronavirus, according to health officials.
All of the patients — who range in age from 2 to 15 — have fevers. More than half reported having a rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea, an alert from the city’s department of health said. Most of the children are exhibiting characteristics of Kawasaki disease otherwise knowns as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, which causes inflammation in the walls of some blood vessels in the body.
Officials describe the illness as a “pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome potentially associated with COVID-19.”
Some of the sick children have been admitted to pediatric intensive care units with more than half requiring cardiac support and five being placed on ventilators. None have died.
No cases have been reported in New Jersey as of Tuesday morning, according to health department officials. “However our epidemiologists are speaking to healthcare facilities to gather information on any related illnesses,” a statement from the department said.
Kawasaki disease or syndrome is rare and typically affects children under the age of 5, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
“The disease was first described in Japan by Tomisaku Kawasaki in 1967, and the first cases outside of Japan were reported in Hawaii in 1976,” according to the CDC. “Clinical signs include fever, rash, swelling of the hands and feet, irritation and redness of the whites of the eyes, swollen lymph glands in the neck, and irritation and inflammation of the mouth, lips, and throat.”
Jane C. Burns, professor and director of the Kawasaki Disease Research Center, issued a statement last week about the possible connection between the disease and the coronavirus.
“We have long suspected that there may be different triggers for KD based on individual genetics,” Burns said in the letter to parents of children with the disease. “The emergence of this new problem suggests that the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, may be a trigger for some children to develop KD.”
More than 24,000 people in New York state have died of COVID-19 related causes, the most of any state in the country.
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