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Cuomo: State helping to develop national criteria for identifying & responding to COVID-related illness in children

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Sat, May 9th 2020 04:50 pm

State Department of Health 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

Hospitals have reported 73 cases of COVID-related illness in children with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome; illness has taken lives of 3 young New Yorkers

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Saturday 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.

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

"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," Cuomo said. "The Department of Health is currently studying 73 cases of children experiencing inflammation of the blood vessels as a complication of COVID-19, and three young New Yorkers have already lost their lives as a result of this illness. The CDC has asked New York to develop a national criteria for this illness, and the state is also working with the NY Genome Center and Rockefeller University to conduct a study to help us better understand it. 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 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 health care providers of the condition, as well as to provide guidance for testing and reporting. 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.

Cuomo’s team said 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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