A young boy has died in New York City just days after health officials put out a memo about a rare and mysterious blood illness that’s affecting children and is related to the novel coronavirus.
Speaking at his daily press briefing on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shared the sad news that a 5-year-old boy died on Thursday from complications of the illness, which doctors are calling “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.”
“While rare, we’re seeing some cases where children affected with the COVID-19 virus can become ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or toxic-shock like syndrome,” he said.
Toxic shock syndrome is a life-threatening bacterial infection and Kawasaki disease is a very rare, but treatable, condition that causes inflammation in blood vessels.
Although COVID-19 does not appear to affect children in the same way as adults, Cuomo noted that the New York City Department of Health is investigating “several other cases that present similar circumstances.”
“This is every parent’s nightmare that your child may actually be affected by this virus, but it’s something we have to consider seriously now,” he said. “This would be really painful news and would open up an entirely different chapter.”
As of Friday, there have been 73 cases of children in New York being seriously sickened with the illness.
Both during his press briefing and on Twitter, Cuomo cautioned parents to be on the lookout for several warning signs, including a prolonged fever that lasts longer than 5 days, severe abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, change in skin color, as well as lethargy, irritability, or confusion.
Health officials in Westchester County also announced on Friday that a young boy had died after suffering neurological complications as a result of the mysterious illness.
Dr. Michael Gewitz of the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, New York, where 11 other children are currently being treated for the illness, said they are still determining whether the child suffered from any underlying conditions.
Over 100 children in the U.S. and Europe have been hospitalized with the mysterious illness, which started appearing in the last three to four weeks.
Doctors in the U.K., Spain and Italy had previously reported seeing a few cases of the illness, and on Monday night, the New York City Department of Health sent a memo to hospitals, warning that there had been 15 identified cases. By Wednesday, the number of cases grew to 64.
NYC health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot previously asked doctors to look out for patients who may have this illness.
“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,” she said in the memo.
“And to parents, if your child has symptoms like fever, rash, abdominal pain or vomiting, call your doctor right away,” she added.
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