NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The number of children diagnosed with a mystery illness linked to COVID-19 is growing in our region.

Connecticut has at least five cases. New Jersey has 18 cases. And New York, leading the nation with 102 cases.

“An urgent, urgent fight this very minute,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome has already been blamed for three pediatric deaths in New York state, including a 5-year-old boy from the Bronx, as well as a 7-year-old boy and 18-year-old girl. There are now 82 cases in New York City, more than double from Monday.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

“We don’t know what make kids specifically susceptible – why some kids and not others,” de Blasio said.

The state has found 60% of those with symptoms test positive for COVID and 40% test positive for the antibodies.

“That means children either currently had the virus or could have had it several weeks ago,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “Because it presents after fact, doesn’t present as normal COVID case… it’s more of a cardiac case than a respiratory case, which is a new manifestation of the COVID virus.”

WATCH: Mayor Bill de Blasio Gives Coronavirus Update

He added 71% were admitted to intensive care units and 19% required intubation. Currently, 43% of the kids remain hospitalized.The latest numbers show 29% of patients are 5 to 9 years old, 28% are 10 to 14, 18% are 1 to 4 and 16% are 15 to 19.

Children can show any one – or all – of the symptoms, which are similar to Kawasaki disease.

Those symptoms include persistent fever, whole body rash, bright red eyes, swollen lymph nodes, feet and hands, red, cracked lips, extreme headache and occasionally, difficulty breathing

In New York, it’s appearing most in children 5-14.

Cuomo says the state Department of Health will hold a webinar Thursday for providers.

Early diagnosis is key. Mayor de Blasio has issued an alert to physicians and is launching digital PSAs.

Dr. Navarra Rodriguez is with AdvantageCare Physicians, a network of ambulatory care centers.

“We’re getting a lot of questions from parents,” she said. “Are they infectious and what’s their risk of transmission at that time?”

Questions also being asked by providers in fourteen states now reporting cases and five European countries.

At the request of the CDC, the state is developing national criteria for identifying and responding to the illness. It is also studying if there’s anything in the DNA of these cases.

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

“When you see these problems, reach out to a health care professional immediately,” de Blasio said.

Gov. Phil Murphy said there were 18 children ages 3-18 showing signs of inflammatory disease in New Jersey. Four tested positive for COVID-19.

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

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.

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.

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