A Long Island hospital reported they have seen about a dozen pediatric patients in the past two weeks with similar inflammatory symptoms, according to an NBC New York report.
“We now have at least about 12 patients in our hospital that are presenting in a similar fashion, that we think have some relation to a COVID infection,” said Dr. James Schneider, Director of Pediatric Critical Care at Cohen Children’s Hospital in Nassau. “It’s something we’re starting to see around the country.”
The features these critically ill children are showing resemble Kawasaki disease, an autoimmune sickness that can be triggered by a viral infection. Symptoms can include fever for more than five days, rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, red eyes and swollen hands and feet. If it is not treated quickly, it can cause life-threatening damage to the arteries and the heart.
“They are scattered. Each center has one or two cases,” said Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Nadine Choueiter of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, which NBC reported has one confirmed case. Although she noted that the cases are still rare, she added, “Yes, we are seeing them and it’s important to talk about it to raise awareness so as pediatricians we look for these symptoms and treat them.”
In addition to a dozen cases at Cohen Children’s Hospital, a source at Mount Sinai Hospital says the number of cases in their pediatric ICU grew by several this week, up from two cases on April 28. A toddler at NYU Langone was released recently after being treated for Kawasaki disease.
Pediatricians say besides the serious inflammatory symptoms, what many of these children have in common is that they test positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies. Although some of the children test negative for COVID-19, they are believed to have been exposed to the virus by immediate family members.
“The interesting part is only now are we seeing these patients show up,” Dr. Schneider said, adding that the question remains, “Is this a typical surge in Kawasaki disease or is this the typical post-infectious response to a COVID infection?”
On April 29, Commissioner Oxiris Barbot of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said, “We have not seen this to date.” However, on May 1, Commissioner Barbot told NBC she is trying to learn more about any potential health threat to children.
“We are looking closely at this, “ Barbot said. “My team has reached out to the pediatric hospitals to get more information about specific cases that they have concerns are indicating an inflammatory cardiovascular response in children that had not been previously observed.”
Barbot said she had also personally communicated with the NYC Medical Examiner who is attempting to compile any information on children abroad who may have died after developing these symptoms. British pediatricians and health officials also issued a warning on April 26 about a possible COVID-Kawasaki link in young children.