Two more children in New York state have died of an inflammatory syndrome believed to be related to the coronavirus, raising the toll to three after the death of a 5-year-old boy announced Friday became the first such fatality in the U.S.
"Three young New Yorkers have died of what may be a COVID-related illness in children," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at a news conference Saturday.
"We thought initially that young people were not affected by COVID-19," the governor added. "We're not so sure that that is the fact anymore."
Hospitals have identified at least 73 cases of the newly-identified condition, called pediatric multisymptom inflammatory syndrome, among toddlers and elementary-school-age children in New York state.
Nationwide, nearly 100 children have been diagnosed with the condition. At least seven states besides New York — California, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington — as well as Washington, D.C., have reported cases.
Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome can mirror symptoms of other inflammatory illnesses, such as Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome.
"This is an extremely rare and previously unknown presentation of COVID-19 in children," the Mount Sinai Health System said in a statement Friday about the death of the 5-year-old boy, the first known death from the condition in the U.S.
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Many, but not all, children with the condition have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Doctors at a news conference with officials in Westchester County, New York, on Friday said some children don't develop symptoms until a month after exposure to the virus.
Cuomo said the New York State Department of Health is now investigating the surge in cases. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tasked the state Health Department with developing national guidelines for hospitals across the country that may be dealing with similar cases, according to Cuomo.
The New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University will be partnering with the state Department of Health to study the disease's genetic basis in order to better understand its origin and how it affects children.
New York health officials urged parents to seek immediate care if a child has:
- Prolonged fever (more than five 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 of frequency in urine
- Lethargy, irritability or confusion