Child in New York dies and rare syndrome tied to virus is suspected

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Ali Watkins,

The New York Times Company

May 8, 2020 | 2:55 PM

NEW YORK — A child died in a Manhattan hospital this week from what appeared to be a rare syndrome linked to the coronavirus that causes life-threatening inflammation in critical organs and blood vessels of children, the hospital said.

If confirmed, it would be the first known death in New York related to the mysterious new syndrome, which officials said began to appear in recent weeks.

The Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital, where the child was being treated, did not release any further information about the victim.

“While it is concerning that children are affected, we must emphasize that based on what we know thus far, it appears to be a very rare condition,” said Lucia Lee, a spokeswoman for the Mount Sinai Health System.

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On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that 73 children in the state had been hospitalized with the new syndrome.

In an advisory to health care providers, state health officials said that most of the children who were thought to have “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome” had also tested positive for the coronavirus or for antibodies to it.

On Monday night, the New York City Health Department issued a bulletin, asking doctors to report any cases of the syndrome. The bulletin said health authorities in the city knew of 15 such cases, involving patients age 2 to 15, who have been in intensive care units since April 17.

The symptoms, which have been noted in a small but growing number of children infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, appear to target the heart and coronary arteries of children infected with the disease. Doctors say the symptom has sent children into a kind of toxic shock as their blood pressure plummets, and their heart fails to send enough blood to their vital organs.

The bizarre symptoms bear some resemblance to Kawasaki syndrome, a separate disease that can cause sudden inflammation of the heart and cause coronary blockages in children.

Doctors say the inflammatory condition does not seem to be driven by COVID-19’s attack of the lungs, a hallmark of the coronavirus infection in adults. Instead, in children who present with the inflammatory syndrome, the virus appears to be attacking their heart.

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The number of children in the United States showing signs of this new syndrome, first was detected in Europe last month, is still small, although no solid data yet exists on the exact number of cases.


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