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CDC warns of new pediatric illness possibly linked with COVID-19

The illness causes children’s coronary arteries to become severely inflamed

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a health advisory to doctors, warning about a mysterious pediatric illness that may be linked to COVID-19. 

Health officials say cases of “multisystem inflammatory syndrome” (MIS-C) have been reported across Europe and in at least 18 states and the District of Columbia. Cases started popping up more frequently in April. 

At least 110 cases have been reported in New York, 17 in New Jersey, and at least six in California. Other states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Washington, have reported small numbers of cases. In New York, three children have died from the illness. 

"Beginning about four or five weeks ago, in Europe they started to describe a form of what really sounded like toxic shock," Dr. Jeffrey Burns of Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston told CNN. "There were just a few at first and then more.” 

Presents in children exposed to COVID-19

Health officials are still seeking answers to many questions about the illness. Doctors in Italy who treated children with the illness said its symptoms are similar to those of toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease. With both illnesses, children’s coronary arteries become severely inflamed. 

However, the new illness isn’t Kawasaki disease, as was initially believed. Given the number of cases, doctors have agreed that this is a different inflammatory syndrome -- and it appears to be associated with COVID-19. Many of the children with MIS-C also tested positive either for current COVID-19 infection, or a past infection.

"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," the CDC health advisory reads.

Limited information 

The CDC said in its alert that there is “limited information currently available about risk factors, pathogenesis, clinical course, and treatment for MIS-C.”

The agency said it’s requesting that health care providers report suspected cases to public health authorities to “better characterize this newly recognized condition in the pediatric population."

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