NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City now has more than 50 cases of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, a rare disease affecting children that’s believed to be related to COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said health officials were investigating more than 100 cases statewide. So far, three children have died.

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The governor is asking hospitals statewide to prioritize COVID-19 testing for children with symptoms of the illness.

Mayor Bill de Blasio shared an update Tuesday, saying the city alone has 52 cases, including one death. Ten other cases are pending.

“It’s sobering, it’s bluntly frightening, and I want to say to parents out there, ‘If you’re hearing this information about pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome and it sounds scary, it does sound scary. I’m speaking as a parent myself,’” de Blasio said Tuesday. “It’s something we did not see essentially throughout March and April, it was not something that the health care community saw on their radar. Then in the last week or two, suddenly, we’re seeing something that’s very troubling.”

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Of the 62 patients, 25 tested positive for the coronavirus and 22 had COVID-19 antibodies.

“Often times when they get the results back from COVID-19, the results may actually be negative,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot explained Monday. “We are encouraging pediatricians to also do antibody testing for these children – more so to confirm the diagnosis, not as an indication of whether or not it’s going to then impact the case moving forward.”


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The mayor said early detection makes all the difference, and parents should be on the lookout for persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting.

“If your child is off, if your child doesn’t have energy, if your child is not themselves and has at least one of these symptoms, call immediately to your doctor, your health care provider,” he said. “If you see multiple symptoms, even more urgent.”

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Anyone who doesn’t have a doctor should call 311 to be connected with a clinic.

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

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, not all children will have all those symptoms or they may have others.

As for a cause, so far it’s a mystery. Gomez said children may have immune systems that over-react to a viral infection, coronavirus or some other virus, leading to runaway inflammation. As for treatment, anti-inflammatories, blood thinners, and certain antibodies are options for now.

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Doctors say children over the age of 2 should wear masks whenever they go outside, practice social distancing, and stay indoors as much as possible.