The Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) of the US has asked doctors to report potential cases of a rare illness in children that could be linked to the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The agency calls the condition a “multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children,” or MIS-C, in a health advisory published Thursday.
It defines the syndrome as a person under the age of 21 who has a fever lasting longer than a day, inflammation and a severe illness that affects two or more organs and requires hospitalization.
Many of the symptoms of this new disorder — called pediatric multi-inflammatory syndrome — mimic Kawasaki disease, and include fever, rash, cracked lips, red, irritated eyes, a bright red tongue, swollen lymph nodes, and swelling or peeling of the skin on the hands and feet.
But while Kawasaki disease is typically seen in young children up to age 6, older kids and teens appear to be developing this new condition.
It has some different symptoms, too. Some children also have gastrointestinal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, which are not typically seen in those who have Kawasaki disease, said Dr. Rudolph Valentini, a pediatric nephrologist who also is the Detroit Medical Center’s Group Chief Medical Officer.
The syndrome can be life-threatening because it also can lead to inflammation of the heart, he said. Kids can become critically ill.
Children in the U.K., Italy and the U.S. have been reported in recent weeks to have symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, a rare inflammatory illness that typically affects children under the age of 5.
New York is monitoring more than 100 cases of the syndrome, and three patients there have died. New Jersey reports more than a dozen cases, and a handful of others have been documented across several other states, including California, Washington, Connecticut, Ohio and Georgia.
In the advisory issued Thursday afternoon, the CDC established the criteria for classifying patients with this new syndrome. Those criteria include patients who:
- Are age 21 and younger
- Have severe illness that requires hospitalization
- Have inflammation of at least two organs/organ systems
- Have had exposure to COVID-19, have tested positive for the virus or have coronavirus antibodies
- Have fever lasting at least 24 hours and laboratory evidence of inflammation
- Have no other condition that may explain the patient’s inflammatory response
“CDC recommends healthcare providers report any patient who meets the case definition to local, state, and territorial health departments to enhance knowledge of risk factors, pathogenesis, clinical course, and treatment of this syndrome,” the agency said in its statement.
The syndrome should be considered in any pediatric deaths if there is evidence of COVID-19, according to the agency.