Three children with the coronavirus in New York are also being treated for a rare inflammatory condition, similar to the one that has sparked concerns in the UK and Italy.
The kids, who range in age from 6 months to 8 years, all had fever and inflammation of the heart and the gut, according to a specialist at Columbia University Medical Center.
“Right now, we’re at the very beginning of trying to understand what that represents,” Dr. Mark Gorelik told Reuters.
Of the three New York patients, one is critically ill, one is in intensive care and the third has been discharged.
Gorelik, a pediatric rheumatologist and immunologist, was called in to evaluate whether the children had Kawasaki disease, a condition thought to be linked to infection that causes inflammation in the walls of blood vessels.
He said he believes the children likely don’t have that illness, but a similar process that shares an underlying mechanism with Kawasaki.
“This has very similar features,” Gorelik said.
Italian and British medical experts are investigating a possible link between the coronavirus outbreak and clusters of severe inflammatory disease among infants, who have arrived at the countries’ hospitals with high fevers and inflamed arteries.
The syndrome has been largely undetected in the United States, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The three New York cases follow a report of a 6-month-old admitted to at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital with Kawasaki disease who was later diagnosed with COVID-19.
It’s possible that the coronavirus comes in two phases for children, who so far have been spared some of the disease’s more serious complications.
They may suffer an initial infection and then a secondary immune response that kicks in some weeks later, Gorelik said.
“It seems a week to two weeks later, you may have the immune system responding in a very disorganized way,” he said.
With Post wires