NEW YORK - Two children in New York have died after developing a serious inflammatory condition possibly linked with the coronavirus, officials said Friday.
Earlier this week, New York state health officials issued an advisory about several dozen cases of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which resembles Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome and was first spotted in children with COVID-19 in Europe. New York has at least 73 known cases of the rare ailment so far.
"So, this is every parent's nightmare, right? That your child may actually be affected by this virus," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his Friday briefing. "But it's something we have to consider seriously now."
The 7-year-old boy developed neurological complications and may have also had an underlying condition, according to Dr. Michael Gewitz of Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, located in Valhalla, which is treating 11 children for the new condition.
Gewitz said the children range in age from a few months to teens. They all tested positive for COVID-19 as well as the antibodies to the virus. However, it is too early to know if this new syndrome is directly caused by or related to COVID, he said.
The boy's case is still being investigated but will be reported as a potential COVID-related death.
A spokesperson for Mount Sinai, where the 5-year-old boy was treated, said the inflammatory condition is not common.
"While it is concerning that children are affected, we must emphasize that based on what we know thus far, it appears to be a very rare condition," Mount Sinai spokesperson Jason Kaplan said 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."
Dr. Sherlita Amler, the Westchester health commissioner, concurred that the condition is rare. But she said that parents in households that have had a COVID-19 infection should be on the lookout for these symptoms in their children and immediately report them to a medical provider: a persistent fever of four or more days, abdominal pain (often severe), vomiting, diarrhea, a rash that develops over the body and can reach the extremities, swollen hands with peeling of the skin, and enlarged lymph nodes.
In April, medical groups in Europe sent a warning to doctors about the condition after some cases turned up.
"While we continue to reduce cases through social distancing, discoveries like this remind us we are still in the middle of our response to this deadly pandemic," Dr. Howard Zucker, the state's health commissioner, said in a statement released on May 6.
Also on Friday, the health commissioner of New Jersey reported that a 4-year-old child who had an underlying medical condition died of COVID-19-related causes. The commissioner did not give any further details of that child's case.