Europe sees two deaths, multiple cases of COVID-linked syndrome in children

Sunday, 17 May, 2020

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has warned doctors about a rare inflammatory and sometimes deadly condition that has been found in children and connected to the coronavirus.

Doctors in NY have diagnosed more than 100 children between the ages 3 and 18 with the inflammatory disease that has been associated with toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease.

The condition, called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, has been reported in about 100 children in NY state, including three who died, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week.

"According to preliminary hypothesis, this syndrome may be associated with the disease COVID-19", - said the head of the who.

At least five children ― three in NY, and one each in France and Britain ― have died from the syndrome, and at least two other deaths are suspect.

First reported on April 26, 2020, in the United Kingdom, MIS-C resembles toxic shock syndrome and the rare Kawasaki disease.

Children under the age of 4 make up 35 percent of the PMIS cases and kids between 5 and 9 represent 25 percent of cases, data show.

In a new study published Wednesday in The Lancet, doctors described an outbreak of a Kawasaki-like disease in the Bergamo province of northern Italy, one of the regions worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The illness is affecting children from less than one year old to 21 years old. Doctors are also seeing positive COVID-19 tests or the presence of antibodies with new MIS-C cases.

While very few with the syndrome tested positive for the virus on swabs the majority tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies
While very few with the syndrome tested positive for the virus on swabs the majority tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies

Little is known about the new syndrome or why it has recently appeared in children, who were thought to suffer less severe complications from COVID-19 than adults.

While the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients continues to decline in the state, doctors are asking parents to be aware of symptoms that could put children at risk.

Six of those confirmed also tested positive for the coronavirus, Persichilli said. A possible temporal association with SARS-COV-2 infection has been hypothesised because some of the children that were tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection were either positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or serology.

The condition mainly affects children under five, and includes symptoms like high fever, rashes, swelling and toxic shock. Officials in Westchester County in upstate NY say that a 7-year old young boy had died at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Valhalla.

He has advised all hospitals to prioritise coronavirus testing for children presenting with symptoms after three children in the state died.

At a briefing in Geneva, the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged clinicians to be alert to the rare syndrome, but cautioned that links to Covid-19 were still unclear. The Kawasaki disease can have long-term impacts on eyes and skin.

Immunoglobulin is used in an IV drip to treat Kawasaki disease, and Portman said this treatment greatly reduces the chances of heart problems.

The condition, rarely life-threatening if appropriately treated, requires immediate hospitalization of patients.

"The good news is that, like Kawasaki disease, nearly all the kids are treatable", he added.