Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Could Be New Fear Amid Pandemic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed a third child has died from a coronavirus-related illness, a new priority amid the pandemic as a disease now be affecting 73 or more children in New York State.

“We were laboring under the impression that young people were not affected by COVID-19, and that was actually good news,” the governor said during his Saturday coronavirus update. “The vulnerable populations were older people, people with comorbidities. One of the few rays of good news was young people weren’t affected. We’re not so sure that that is the fact anymore.”

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Cuomo said elementary school children are presenting symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome.

A 7-year-old boy died late last week at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla. Dr. Michael Gewitz said he suffered neurological complications from what is now called pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome.

Cuomo announced the death of a 5-year-old boy on Friday, who CBS2 later confirmed died at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital.

The third death was mentioned as part of Cuomo’s COVID-19 daily briefing on Saturday.

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“These are children who come in, who don’t present the symptoms that we normally are familiar with,” said Cuomo. “They’re not in respiratory distress, and I think that’s one of the reasons why this may be getting discovered this far into the process. It’s more an inflammation of the blood vessels which can then cause problems with their heart.”

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Officials said they are racing to see if there is a genetic difference that would explain why some children are falling victim while others appear to remain healthy. The governor said the Department of Health, the New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University will be working together to conduct a genome and RNA sequencing study.

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“It’s still very much a situation that is developing, but it is a serious situation,” said Cuomo. “This is the last thing that we need at this time with all that’s going on, with all the anxiety we have now for parents that have to worry about whether or not their youngster was infected. And again, symptoms that don’t even seem like the symptoms we associate with COVID-19. So, we still have a lot to learn about this virus, and every day is another eye-opening situation.”

Web Extra: Health Advisory On Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome

Seek care immediately if a child has:

  • Prolonged fever (more than 5 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 or frequency of urine Lethargy, irritability, or confusion

Watch Jessica Layton’s report

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In New Jersey, a 4-year-old child with underlying health issues has also died. It’s unclear if he was affected by the inflammatory syndrome.