The coronavirus pandemic has caused confusion among doctors all over the world, particularly in New York City — the North American epicenter of the outbreak. According to a report by Yahoo News, 15 children have been hospitalized in the city, all with a mysterious new syndrome that may be linked to COVID-19. The New York City Health Department made its first public announcement about the findings on Monday night.
The young patients ranged in age from 2 to 15 years old, and were all hospitalized between April 17 and May 1. They all displayed symptoms associated with toxic shock — or Kawasaki disease — a rare inflammatory syndrome. It usually only affects children under the age of 5, and doctors say the symptoms have varied widely in this small group. So far, more than half of the children have required blood pressure support and five were put on ventilators.
"Clinical features vary, depending on the affected organ system, but have been noted to include features of Kawasaki disease or features of shock," read the announcement from the NYC Health Department's Dr. Demetre Daskalakis. "However, the full spectrum of disease is not yet known."
So far, all of the patients displayed a fever. More than half of them had rashes, abdominal pains, vomiting or diarrhea. However, less than half of them had respiratory symptoms, such as those that might indicate they had the novel coronavirus. Daskalakis described this strange new syndrome as a "multi-system inflammatory syndrome potentially associated with COVID-19."
Only four of the patients tested positive for COVID-19 via molecular testing, however, antibody testing showed that six more of the patients had previously been infected with it. Daskalakis noted that these 15 patients were identified when the department reached out to pediatric intensive care units all over the city, and more might have gone unnoticed. "Only severe cases may have been recognized at this time," Daskalakis said.
Similar cases have been reported in other parts of the U.S., and in Europe, showing how much there is still to learn about COVID-19. Health experts are fearful of a pattern where children seem to be suffering more critical symptoms than adults through the pandemic.
At the time of this writing, New York City has had over 319,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 19,415 deaths. The U.S. as a whole has had over 1.2 million confirmed cases, and 69,680 deaths. Around the world, there have now been over 3.58 million confirmed cases, 1.17 million confirmed recoveries and over 252,000 confirmed deaths. For the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization.