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Cuomo: New York has issued first-in-the-nation criteria to health care professionals defining COVID-related inflammatory illness in children

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Thu, May 14th 2020 08:45 pm

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday announced New York has issued first-in-the-nation criteria to health care professionals establishing an interim case definition for COVID-related inflammatory illness in children. The criteria establishes a new name for the syndrome – pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome – and a definition of what symptoms health care providers should look for. Case definitions also help standardize tracking and reporting and can help ensure a better health outcome.

The state is currently investigating 110 reported cases in New York where children – predominantly school-aged – are experiencing these symptoms 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're still learning a lot about this virus and we must remain vigilant, because the situation is changing every day," Cuomo said. "We now have 110 cases of COVID-related inflammatory illness in children and I expect this is only going to grow. We are leading the national effort to better understand and combat this new emerging syndrome, and we want to make sure everyone is informed and is looking out for the symptoms of this illness in children."

New Yorkers should seek immediate care if a child has:

Predominant symptoms:

  • Prolonged fever (more than five days)
  • Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Skin rash

Other symptoms:

  • Change in skin color – becoming pale, patchy and/or blue
  • Difficulty feeding (infants) or is too sick to drink fluids
  • Trouble breathing or is breathing very quickly
  • Racing heart or chest pain
  • Lethargy, irritability or confusion

New York is leading a national effort to understand and combat this illness related to COVID-19 in children. Cuomo has directed hospitals statewide to prioritize COVID-19 testing for children displaying symptoms similar to an atypical Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome. The New York State Department of Health is hosting a statewide webinar for all health care providers to discuss the symptoms, testing and care of reported inflammatory disease in children related to COVID-19.

The 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.

At Cuomo’s direction, the DOH 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 DOH all cases of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome potentially associated with COVID-19 in those under 21 years of age.

The governor’s office said, “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.”

For more information, visit www.health.ny.gov.

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