Coronavirus-linked syndrome sending kids to intensive care. Here’s what we know

Henrietta Strickland
May 6, 2020

Last week, Britain's Paediatric Intensive Care Society issued an alert to doctors noting that in the past three weeks, there has been an increase in the number of children with "a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care" across the country.

Numerous children, ages 2 to 15, had tested positive for either COVID-19 or for having COVID-19 antibodies. So far, no fatalities have been reported among the New York City patients.

"There are some recent rare descriptions of children in some European countries that have had this inflammatory syndrome, which is similar to the Kawasaki syndrome, but it seems to be very rare", Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a World Health Organization scientist, said at a news briefing last week.

The syndrome resembles Kawasaki disease, authorities said, an inflammatory condition of the blood vessels in which children develop high fever, rash on the back, chest and abdomen, bloodshot eyes, swollen hands and feet, swollen lymph glands and swelling around the mouth and lips.

New York's government health department said it had identified 15 cases of children aged between two and 15 who had symptoms of Kawasaki disease.

"All patients had subjective or measured fever and more than half reported rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea". It is usually treatable and most children recover without serious problems, but it can be deadly.

Cyclists (none of whom are connected to the reported cases) ride along Sixth Avenue during the coronavirus pandemic Saturday, May 2, 2020, in NY.

Of the 15 children, four had tested positive for COVID19. He said doctors who treat kids with these symptoms should refer their patients to specialists or intensive care immediately.

"Only severe cases may have been recognized at this time", Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, with the New York City Health Department, said in a memo to doctors Monday.

"Early diagnosis and treatment of patients meeting full or partial criteria for Kawasaki disease is critical to preventing end-organ damage and other long-term complications", he added. The group said there was "growing concern" that either a COVID-19 related syndrome was emerging in children or that a different, unidentified disease might be responsible.

At least five of the cases required a ventilator and more than half of the patients required blood pressure support.

In the United States and Europe, a small number of children have been hospitalized for a odd syndrome that experts say may be associated with COVID-19.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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