Doctors in Northern Italy, one of the areas most affected by the new coronavirus, and in France, have reported spikes in cases of a rare inflammatory syndrome in young children similar to that in the United States, Great Britain, and Spain has been reported, according to a report in The Lancet.
The condition, ‘Inflammatory syndrome in several children, possibly associated with COVID-19’, shares symptoms of toxic shock and Kawasaki disease, including fever, rash, swollen glands and, in severe cases, heart inflammation.
Case reports have raised concerns that COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, could pose a greater risk to children than previously believed. It has so far taken its greatest toll on the elderly and those with chronic health problems.
New York said on Sunday that it was investigating 85 cases of children with the syndrome. So far, three of those children, who also tested positive for COVID-19, have died and two more deaths are being assessed, said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In Bergamo, Italy, between February 18 and April 20, the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital admitted 10 children with the syndrome, including eight who tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. In the past five years, doctors there had seen a total of only 19 children with Kawasaki disease, according to the report published late Wednesday by The Lancet.
Compared to children with Kawasaki disease in the past, those they saw during the pandemic were older and more severely ill, the report said, with 60% heart complications and half showing signs of toxic shock syndrome.
Scientists are still trying to determine if the syndrome is related to the new coronavirus, because not all children have tested positive for the virus with it.
Some researchers have suggested that the coronavirus family may cause Kawasaki disease.
“The symptoms in children are different than in adults with COVID-19, whose disease is more of a respiratory condition,” said Dr. George Ofori-Amanfo, chief of pediatric critical care at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital in New York.
Children with the rare inflammatory syndrome often have severe abdominal pain and vomiting that progress to shock, Ofori-Amanfo told Reuters.
He said none of the children he recently saw with this syndrome had an underlying disease, but they all had antibodies to the coronavirus.