New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday sent an alert to governments and health officials across all other 49 US states concerning a new and mysterious syndrome that appears to be associated with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infectious disease and causes severe illness and even death among young children.
Cuomo said that the new syndrome has claimed lives of three children, one in New York City and two in the counties of Westchester and Suffolk. All three children, the youngest of whom was aged 5, while the oldest was a teenager, showed signs of blood vessel inflammation.
“NYS DOH [New York State Department of Health] is today issuing a notice to all other 49 state health departments to notify them of this situation,” Cuomo said on Sunday during his daily coronavirus briefing.
The governor said that state health experts are currently observing 85 children with coronavirus-related illness. The state is also investigating the death of two other children.
The children, who tested positive for the virus, were said to be experiencing inflammation of blood vessels or the heart, instead of the ordinary COVID-19-related symptoms.
Cuomo said that the symptoms that appeared in the reported cases were similar to toxic-shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, an unexplained illness that mainly affects children under 5.
“It’s possible that these cases were coming in and were not diagnosed as related to COVID, as they don’t appear as COVID,” the governor said. “It may even be probable that this exists in other states and we want to make sure they are aware of it”.
Cuomo noted that the state health department is urgently working alongside the New York Genome Center and the Rockefeller University to carry out more research on the new syndrome.
Health experts in New York first noted the mysterious syndrome appearing in children about a month ago, during the peak of the spread of the pandemic in the state, according to The New York Times.
Doctors believe that children with weak immune systems are at high risk for the syndrome.
New York Health Commissioner and pediatric cardiologist Dr. Howard Zucker on Sunday urged US parents to pay more attention to the symptoms of the potentially deadly syndrome, which is now officially termed “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome”.
“I would tell parents that if your child has any nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pallor - the color of their face changing, the color of their lips and fingers - if they have any chest pains... they should call their doctor and they need to be evaluated,” Zucker said during the state coronavirus briefing.