Although COVID-19 affects children less frequently, officials say they have been diagnosed in the New York area with a serious mystery illness connected to it that affects the heart and blood vessels.
The state’s Health Department said on Wednesday that 64 children were hospitalized with “Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome (PMSIS) Potentially Associated with COVID-19”.
The children who were found to have inflammation of the blood vessels, including coronary arteries, also tested positive for COVID-19 and many required respirators.
One of the affected children in New York City is of Indian origin, according to WNBC TV.
Eight-year-old Jayden Hardowar’s parents told the station that he came down with it days after he seemed to be recovering from COVID-19 and had to have a ventilator.
In an advisory to hospitals and other medical facilities, the health department described it as similar to Kawasaki disease, which causes inflammation of the blood vessels, and toxic shock syndrome.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Kawasaki disease named for the Japanese doctor who first diagnosed it is a leading cause of acquired heart disease in the US.
New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said that even though children are by and large mildly affected by COVID-19, they are more severely affected when PMSIS develops.
Detailing the symptoms, she said: “Generally, children present with prolonged high fevers, several days of very high fevers. They can also have very red eyes, very brightly colored lips. One of the hallmarks that we see is what we call a strawberry tongue, which means their tongue is very bright and red.”
They can also have a rash and swelling in the hands and feet, she added.
“If any child is experiencing these symptoms, particularly in combination, call your doctor right away,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
A state survey found that about three in five patients admitted to hospitals for COVID-19 were over the age of 60, according to New York Governor Mario Cuomo.
Children developing COVID-19 and PMSIS associated with it is considered a mystery and a warning of risks to young people, who should observe the coronavirus restrictions.
WNBC quoted former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb as saying that these cases appear to disprove the assumption that coronavirus “wasn’t really affecting kids”.
Jayden Hardowar is now recovering in a hospital on Long Island.
His mother, Navita Hardowar told WNBC that after he had seemed to have recovered from a bout of fever and diarrhea while still being weak she heard him call her in a feeble voice.
She said she found him unresponsive with his arms and head twisted backward and his face and lips blue.
His older brother Tyrone, a 15-year-old scout, and his father Roup Harodwar performed an emergency cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on him while his mother called an ambulance, the TV station reported.
He was taken to a local hospital, but transferred to the children’s hospital on Long Island, the station reported.
Jayden Hardowar was off the ventilator and was recovering, though weak, according to his family.
Similar cases have also been reported from the UK and the World Health Organisation’s Emergencies Programmes Executive Director Mike Ryan said that doctors had been alerted to wathc for it and researchers to look into it.