US federal health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, May 14, 2020, issued guidelines to American doctors on how to identify and report cases of a rare, life-threatening syndrome in children associated with the new coronavirus. The guidance follows several recent reports of the syndrome by doctors in France, Italy, Spain, and Britain, and more than 100 cases in the state of New York.
COVID-Linked Syndrome in Children
Many health experts now believed that the reports on COVID-19, which has taken a major toll on the elderly people with chronic health conditions, seemed to be understated when it is concerned about risks involved to children from the coronavirus pandemic. According to the health agency, the syndrome, officially called “Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Potentially Associated with COVID-19,” shares symptoms with toxic shock and Kawasaki disease including fever, rashes, swollen glands, and in severe cases, heart inflammation.
The new US guidance instructed that children under 21 could be diagnosed with fever, evidence of inflammation, illness severe enough to require hospitalization and impairment of multiple organs such as the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, gut, skin, and nerves. Under the instructions, doctors have been advised that children with such syndromes should also test for current infection with the novel coronavirus or for antibodies demonstrating a recent infection.
Sources reported, as of May 12, the New York State Department of Health has identified 102 patients with similar presentations, many of whom tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection or antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19. Meanwhile, the CDC said on Thursday that both New York State and New York City continued to receive additional reports of suspected cases.
Reports from Italy and France
According to the report published by The Lancet late on Wednesday, the Hospital Papa Giovanni XXIII admitted 10 children with the syndrome, including eight who tested positive for coronavirus antibodies between February 18 and April 20 in Bergamo, Italy. Compared to children with Kawasaki disease in the past, the report explained, the children with the pandemic disease were found older and more severely ill, with 60% suffering heart complications and half having signs of toxic shock syndrome.
On Thursday, French researchers reported Kawasaki disease-like symptoms in 17 children admitted to a Paris hospital between April 27 and May 7, while some researchers have suggested the coronavirus family might trigger Kawasaki disease.
Dr. George Ofori-Amanfo, the division chief of Pediatric Critical Care at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital, New York, explained, “The symptoms in children are different from adults with COVID-19 in whom the illness is more of a respiratory condition.”
Ofori-Amanfo told reporters that children with rare inflammatory syndrome often have severe abdominal pain and vomiting that progresses to shock. However, he observed that none of the children he has recently dealt with this syndrome had any underlying disease but were found that they all had antibodies for the coronavirus.
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