The US Is On Alert For a COVID-19-Like Disease Affecting Children

A few weeks after the UK and France, the United States is now warning of a new disease with symptoms similar to Kawasaki syndrome, which affects only children.

Child mask
© Getty Images
Child mask

In Europe, the warning was given at the end of April. In a press release issued on Thursday, May 14, the US health authorities have now also warned health professionals about a rare, but potentially fatal inflammatory disease affecting children, and probably linked to COVID-19. The disease has been named multi-system inflammatory syndrome in Children (MIS-C) by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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First reports in late April

Initial observations of the disease were made at the end of April in the United Kingdom, when the Paediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS) relayed an alert from the NHS, concerning an increase in the number of cases of seriously ill children.

A few days later, the same observation was made in France, where around 20 children showed similar symptoms. 'These are children between 2 and 10 years old, with no notable antecedents and no chronic disease,' said Isabelle Kone Paut, professor of paediatric rheumatology at the Kremlin-Bicêtre hospital in Paris.

In the United States, about 100 cases, including at least three deaths, have been reported in the state of New York. '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 said.

Symptoms similar to Kawasaki

Criteria include symptoms such as fever and multi-organ inflammation requiring hospitalisation, with the inability to make a diagnosis, and exposure to COVID-19 or confirmation of the disease. As a reminder, doctors confronted with this new disease have observed symptoms similar to those of Kawasaki disease, a vascular syndrome affecting young children, the cause of which remains undetermined.

And while the role of children in the transmission of the novel coronavirus is still difficult to assess, as is their resistance to the virus, the CDC believes that the hypothesis regarding this syndrome which is similar to Kawasaki's disease should be considered 'in any pediatric death with evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection.'

According to paediatrician Sunil Sood, of the Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York, interviewed by the AFP, inflammatory symptoms seem to appear 4 to 6 weeks after the child has been infected with the virus, when he or she has already developed antibodies. 'They had the virus, the body fought it off earlier. But now there's this delayed exaggerated immune response,' the doctor said.

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