The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 14 issued a health advisory to thousands of doctors nationwide, advising them to be aware of a rare, life-threatening syndrome in children associated with the CCP virus.
The guidance follows more than 100 cases of the rare inflammatory condition in the state of New York, and a handful of cases in at least 18 other states across the United States, and Washington, D.C., in young children who had been exposed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
“During March and April, cases of COVID-19 rapidly increased in New York City and New York State. In early May 2020, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene received reports of children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome [MIS-C],” the CDC advisory reads.
Multiple reports of the condition in children have also cropped up worldwide including in France, Italy, Spain, and the UK.
The condition, officially called “Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Potentially Associated with COVID-19,” is similar to Kawasaki disease (KD), also known as Kawasaki syndrome, according to doctors. The CDC describes KD as an acute febrile illness of unknown cause that primarily affects children aged 5 and younger.
MIS-C causes symptoms such as a persistent fever of at least 100.4 degrees, hypotension, multiorgan involvement, rashes, swollen glands, and elevated inflammatory markers, the CDC said in its advisory.
The guidance defines the rare condition as occurring in people aged 21 and younger, with symptoms such as fever, evidence of inflammation, illness severe enough to require hospitalization, and impairment of multiple organs such as the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, gut, skin, and nerves.
“Healthcare providers who have cared or are caring for patients younger than 21 years of age meeting MIS-C criteria should report suspected cases to their local, state, or territorial health department,” the CDC advisory said.
To meet the criteria, doctors should rule out other plausible diagnoses. Children with the condition should also test positive for current infection with the CCP virus or for antibodies demonstrating a recent infection.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that at least three young children in the state have died after being hospitalized with MIS-C.
The reports have raised concerns that COVID-19 could pose a greater risk to children than had been understood. COVID-19 so far has taken its greatest toll on the elderly and those with chronic health conditions.
“There is limited information currently available about risk factors, pathogenesis, clinical course, and treatment for MIS-C,” the CDC said. “CDC is requesting healthcare providers report suspected cases to public health authorities to better characterize this newly recognized condition in the pediatric population.”
Reuters contributed to this report.