A total of 15 children were treated for symptoms including inflammation of the blood vessels, along with vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Doctors say they do not know the cause, though there are "concerns, not yet substantiated," that it might be linked to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
All of the children are between the ages of two and 15, and more than seven of them require blood pressure support. And five of these are said to be needing mechanical ventilation as part of their treatment.
These mysterious illnesses follow reports by the New York Department of Health (NYDH) that another 100 children, mostly in European countries, have also had to be treated at hospitals for similar symptoms.
Inflamed blood vessels could be suggestive of Kawasaki disease, a rare illness that strikes one in 10,000 children under the age of five every year. Other symptoms of Kawasaki disease include swollen hands and feet, bright red lips that are also swollen, and rashes on the torso or groin.
In its report, the NYDH advised city doctors to keep an eye out for a condition currently being described as "multi-system inflammatory syndrome," which often necessitates having to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) for cardiac or respiratory support. So far, no children have died from whatever this is.
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Though some suspect that this mystery disease might be related to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), seeing as how it is already going around, media reports are clear in emphasizing that the two are not definitively linked. Even so, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging its clinical network to be aware of any new cases that might emerge.
Keep in mind that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is infecting very few children as it is. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 1.7 percent of known cases are in children, and the vast majority of these have been mild.
With that said, whatever this new syndrome is that is afflicting children could potentially be some kind of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) mutation, though, again, that is all speculation at this point.
The reason why some believe that there might be a connection to Kawasaki syndrome is that, even though it is rare, the disease tends to be triggered by the presence of viruses or infections. In other words, there is a possibility that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is "awakening" Kawasaki syndrome in some children.
"Kawasaki syndrome does not have a precise cause, but in genetically predisposed children there is a triggering environmental factor, probably infectious and probably viral," says pediatrician Dr. Marianna Fabi, who is currently treating five cases of the disease at Bologna's Sant'Orsola-Malpighi hospital in Italy.
Meanwhile, New York City health officials are probing the known cases there to see if they can identify any link to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). According to health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, "even though the relationship of this syndrome to COVID-19 is not yet defined, and not all of these cases have tested positive for COVID-19 by either DNA test or serology, the clinical nature of this virus is such that we are asking all providers to contact us immediately if they see patients who meet the criteria we've outlined."
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Sources for this article include: