A 5-year-old boy in New York has become the first child in the United States to die from a condition called pediatric multisymptom inflammatory syndrome that is believed to be linked to COVID-19.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a briefing Friday that the state department of health is investigating several related cases in children.
“This would be really painful news and would open an entirely different chapter,” Cuomo said.
“This is an extremely rare and previously unknown presentation of COVID-19 in children,” the Mount Sinai Health System said in a statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to the family in the wake of this tragedy.”
Nationwide, nearly 100 children have been diagnosed with the newly identified syndrome. At least eight states — California, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, 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.
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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
Most concerning is that children can develop problems with heart function. The heart doesn’t pump as efficiently as it should. The problem appears to be the result of a child’s immune system going into overdrive after a COVID-19 infection.
Many, but not all, children with the condition have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. At a news conference with Westchester County, New York, officials on Friday, doctors said some children don’t develop symptoms until a month after exposure to the virus.
A 14-year-old boy in the U.K. has also died from the inflammatory syndrome. His and other such cases in Europe were detailed in a report published this week in The Lancet.