At least 73 children have been diagnosed with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease — a rare inflammatory condition that often impacts children aged five years or younger — and toxic shock syndrome, and it could be related to Covid-19.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced a five-year-old boy died in a New York City hospital on Thursday after health officials said they initially believed children would be largely unaffected by the coronavirus.
“While rare, we are seeing some cases where children affected with the Covid virus can become ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome that literally causes inflammation in their blood vessels,” Mr Cuomo said during his Friday press briefing.
“So this is every parent’s nightmare, right? That your child may actually be affected by this virus,” he added. “But it’s something we have to consider seriously now.”
Health officials will now investigate coronavirus further, to determine its impact on younger communities.
Children across the US have been diagnosed with the Kawasaki disease during the pandemic, and it was also spotted in parts of Europe — such as England, Spain, and Italy — raising alarms.
A spokesperson for The Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital expressed condolences for the family of the deceased child, but also reminded the public that the disease was still rare, The New York Times reported.
“While it is concerning that children are affected, we must emphasise that based on what we know thus far, it appears to be a very rare condition,” Mount Sinai spokesperson Jason Kaplan wrote in a statement. “Mount Sinai and the healthcare community will continue to investigate and study this new variant in hopes of finding a solution to this rare condition.”
At least another three children have died from the coronavirus in New York state, according to data.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reassured parents that a vast majority of children generally do not develop severe symptoms from coronavirus. Typically, the novel virus impacts people with comorbidities or those over the age of 60 years old.
“Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for Covid-19 than adults,” the CDC’s site says. “While some children and infants have been sick with Covid-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.”
The department still noted, though, that “severe outcomes have been reported in children, including three deaths”.
No research has indicated if Covid-19 could cause Kawasaki disease. About 3,000 children die from the disease each year in the US.
The New York Health Department released an alert on Wednesday telling its hospitals to immediately alert the department if any child patient exhibited symptoms related to the rare disease.