NYC probing 'incredibly concerning' rare syndrome that affects children

New York City sent out a health alert to the parents of more than a million children due to a rare COVID-19-related syndrome that has become deadly in the city. 

At least 93 children in New York state have been diagnosed with what is being called multi-system inflammatory syndrome, which has symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease. Most of them are toddlers and elementary-age children. New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said the majority of the kids sickened with it in the city are between 5 and 9 but the statistics show a range from infancy to late teens.

"Their kidneys are not working, they're going into shock, their heart is giving out," Dr. Barbot said on Monday. "This is incredibly concerning because the best way to ensure that we limit kids that are diagnosed with this  inflammatory syndrome is to ensure prevention."

New York City has 38 known cases and nine more possible cases. One of those children has died. New York has three known fatalities statewide.

The symptoms include high fever that lasts four or more days, rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, very red eyes, cracked lips or skin, and a swollen red strawberry tongue.

The city's Health Department has started testing children who have been known to have it to see if they have antibodies. 

"We keep learning every day," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Sunday morning news conference. "We hope that by learning every day we're going to find solutions."

On Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the children had tested positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies but did not show the common symptoms of the virus when they were hospitalized.


"This is the last thing that we need at this time, with all that is going on, with all the anxiety we have, now for parents to have to worry about whether or not their youngster was infected," Cuomo said at his daily briefing.

Children elsewhere in the U.S. have also been hospitalized with the condition, which was also seen in Europe.

At least 3,000 U.S. children are diagnosed with Kawasaki disease each year. It is most common in children younger than 6 and in boys.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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