On Tuesday, New York City officials said there were at least 15 suspected cases in young people age 2-15 hospitalized with the inflammatory disease in New York City.
The illness is similar to Kawasaki syndrome, a rare blood vessel disorder. Of the 15, four tested positive for COVID-19. Of the negative, six had coronavirus antibodies, suggesting they had been infected earlier.
On Wednesday, New York state officials said that the total number of suspected cases across the state is 64, including the 15 in New York City.
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“Even though it’s uncommon, compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who have contracted this disease, it’s still causing us concern,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
“We are learning that even though children are by and large mildly affected when it comes to COVID-19 that there can be situations that they are more severely affected. And thank God in this situation we haven’t had any children who have died with this Kawasaki or Kawasaki-like illness,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said Tuesday.
Dr. Barbot described the Kawasaki-like disease as follows:
“Generally, children present with prolonged high fevers, several days of very high fevers. They can also have very red eyes, very brightly colored lips. One of the hallmarks that we see is what we call a strawberry tongue, which means their tongue is very bright and red,” Dr. Barbot said. “The other symptoms children can have are a rash. They can have swelling of their hands and feet.”
- Abdominal pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Inflammation in the eyes
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Dr. Barbot said cases have also been identified in the U.K., Philadelphia and Boston.
“We’re not sure what to make of this yet, and as I’ve said several times in the past, we’re still learning every day about how COVID-19 behaves, not only from a public health point of view but from a clinical point of view,” she said.
New York City’s Department of Health issued a health alert, saying hospitals must report similar cases.
The New Jersey Department of Health says it too is looking into possible cases of the same pediatric illness along with possible ties to the coronavirus.