CDC issues advisory about severe coronavirus-related illness in children

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an emergency advisory about a mysterious inflammatory illness believed to be connected to the coronavirus in children. 

The CDC asked that health care providers report instances of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a condition health officials say is similar to Kawasaki Disease — a rare illness that causes inflamed blood vessels, typically in young children. 

Patients who have MIS-C exhibit fever, laboratory evidence of inflammation, and evidence of current or past COVID-19 infection, among other attributes, according to the case definition laid out by the CDC in the advisory. 

The syndrome can affect children and young adults up to 21 years of age. 

New York City health officials warned doctors of the condition on May 5 after 15 cases were detected there at the time. Shortly after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a major study into the coronavirus’s effects on children, including the inflammatory illness.

New York has reported more than 100 potential cases of the syndrome since early May. 

The CDC emphasized that there is still very little that is known about the medical condition at this time. 

“It is currently unknown if multisystem inflammatory syndrome is specific to children or if it also occurs in adults,” the advisory read. 

The condition was first detected in late April in the United Kingdom, where young children began showing symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease.

In a limited sample study cited by the CDC, of eight children who had the disease in the U.K., it was reported that six were of Afro-Caribbean descent. All of the children tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, including one who died from the inflammatory illness. 

The illness tends to be severe, with 71 percent of suspected cases being admitted to intensive care units in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Thursday, noting 43 percent of the detected cases remain hospitalized.  

“There is limited information currently available about risk factors, pathogenesis, clinical course, and treatment for MIS-C. CDC is requesting healthcare providers report suspected cases to public health authorities to better characterize this newly recognized condition in the pediatric population,” the CDC advisory reads.

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