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May 13, 2020 -

State is Investigating Approximately 102 Reported Cases & 3 Deaths Related to COVID Illness in Children with Symptoms Similar to an Atypical Kawasaki Disease and Toxic Shock-Like Syndrome 

Of Children Displaying these Symptoms, 60 Percent Tested Positive for COVID-19 and 40 Percent Tested Positive for COVID-19 Antibodies

The State is currently investigating approximately 102 reported cases in New York where children - predominantly school-aged - are experiencing these symptoms possibly due to COVID-19. The illness has taken the lives of three young New Yorkers, including a 5-year old in New York City, a 7-year old in Westchester County and a teenager in Suffolk County. Of these cases, 60 percent of the children displaying these symptoms tested positive for COVID-19 and 40 percent tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. Additionally, 71 percent of the cases have resulted in ICU admission, 19 percent of cases have resulted in intubation and 43 percent of the cases remain hospitalized.

"We must stay alert with this virus because we're still learning, and what we thought we knew doesn't always turn out to be true," Governor Cuomo said. "When we first started with this virus, we were told children are not affected, which was a great sigh of relief. But now we're finding out that may not be 100 percent accurate because we're seeing cases where children who may have been infected with the COVID virus show symptoms of an inflammatory disease like the Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome. New York State has been aggressively investigating these new cases and is leading the efforts on this nationwide, and the more we know the more we know, the more we'll communicate."

New Yorkers should seek immediate care if a child has:

Predominant Symptoms:

  • Prolonged fever (more than five days)
  • Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Skin rash

Other Symptoms:

  • Change in skin color - becoming pale, patchy and/or blue
  • Difficulty feeding (infants) or is too sick to drink fluids
  • Trouble breathing or is breathing very quickly
  • Racing heart or chest pain
  • Lethargy, irritability or confusion

New York State is leading the national effort to find out more about this illness related to COVID-19 in children. Governor Cuomo yesterday directed hospitals statewide to prioritize COVID-19 testing for children displaying symptoms similar to an atypical Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome.

At the request of the CDC, the state is helping to develop the national criteria for identifying and responding to COVID-related illness. New York State has notified 49 other states across the country of emerging cases of COVID-related illness in children, and now 14 other states and five European countries have reported cases as well.

The State Department of Health is also partnering with the NY Genome Center and Rockefeller University to conduct a genome and RNA sequencing study to better understand COVID-related illnesses in children and the possible genetic basis of this syndrome.

At the direction of Governor Cuomo, the State Department of Health has issued an advisory about this serious inflammatory disease, called "Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with COVID-19," to inform healthcare providers of the condition, as well as to provide guidance for testing and reporting. Health care providers, including hospitals, are required to report to the Department of Health all cases of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome potentially associated with COVID-19 in those under 21 years of age.

Though most children who get COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms, in the United Kingdom, a possible link has also been reported between pediatric COVID-19 and serious inflammatory disease. The inflammatory syndrome has features which overlap with Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome and may occur days to weeks after acute COVID-19 illness. It can include persistent fever, abdominal symptoms, rash, and even cardiovascular symptoms requiring intensive care.

Early recognition by pediatricians and referral to a specialist including to critical care is essential. Molecular and serological testing for COVID-19 in children exhibiting the above symptoms is recommended. The majority of patients have tested positive for COVID-19, some on molecular testing for SARS-COV-2, others on serological testing.

For more information, visit www.health.ny.gov.