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The Covid-19 Related Illness That is Affecting Children

May 17, 2020 3 min read

THE WORLD HEALTH Organization is urging doctors around the globe to look for a rare illness in children that could be associated with the coronavirus.

According to the World Health Organization, this syndrome is occurring mostly in children and adolescents under age 19.

Symptoms can include a fever that lasts three days or longer, rash, inflammation, hypotension or shock, gastrointestinal problems, among other things.

"I call on all clinicians worldwide to work with your national authorities and WHO to be on the alert and better understand this syndrome in children," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

In the United States, doctors are investigating cases in at least 150 children, most of them in New York.

While a CNN survey finds hospitals and clinics in at least 18 states and Washington, DC is checking into suspected cases.

"It makes sense that it emerged in New York first because New York had the largest and most severe outbreak (of Covid-19), followed by New Jersey and, unfortunately, Boston."

We’re seeing an increased number of cases that seem to compound over time in areas where COVID-19 is prevalent.

"We can expect that each of the epicenters will see clusters of these emerging roughly four to six weeks later," Burns told CNN.

"This syndrome appears to be an uncommon but serious complication of Covid-19 in children." Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director for infectious diseases and immunizations at the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division.

Earlier in the month, New York City reported of numerous children having “multisystem inflammatory syndrome."

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

covid-19 in kids


Symptoms include persistent fever, inflammation, and poor function in organs such as the kidneys or heart. Children may also show evidence of blood vessel inflammation, such as red eyes, a bright red tongue, and cracked lips, said Dr. Moshe Arditi, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

In late April. A 6-month-old seen in Stanford, California, screened positive for COVID-19 after presenting with fever, blotchy rash, and minimal respiratory symptoms. She was sent home from urgent care. 

These are symptoms similar to an uncommon condition known as Kawasaki disease 

Only Kawasaki disease is usually limited to children under 5 years old. And with this new disease, we’re seeing it in cases with children and adolescents of up to 19 years old.

Though it appears similar to Kawasaki Disease, there are a few other warning signs that show up.

"...there are a lot more features that are consistent with toxic shock syndrome, such as multi-organ system involvement and severe abdominal involvement with diarrhea..." – Dr. Jeffrey Burns, Critical Care Specialist at Boston Children's Hospital 

Main Symptoms Outlined by Specialists:

  • An individual aged under 21 years presenting with fever, laboratory evidence of inflammation, and evidence of clinically severe illness requiring hospitalization, with more than 2)organ involvement (heart, kidney, renal, respiratory, blood, gastrointestinal, dermatologic or neurological); AND
  • No alternative plausible diagnoses; AND
  • Positive for current or recent SARS-CoV-2 infection by RT-PCR, serology, or antigen test; or COVID-19 exposure within the 4 weeks prior to the onset of symptoms
  • Fever above 100.4F for 24 hours or more
  • Abnormal blood tests including an elevated C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), fibrinogen, procalcitonin, d-dimer, ferritin, lactic acid dehydrogenase (LDH), or interleukin 6 (IL-6), elevated neutrophils, reduced lymphocytes, and low albumin. 

How to protect yourself and your children 

It is best practices to follow the CDC and WHO guidelines for preventing Covid-19 and “multisystem inflammatory syndrome" in children.

  • Clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people (at least 6 feet).
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face coverwhen around others.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms - this is why it is especially important to wear a facemask when engaging with others (even if they appear perfectly healthy). 

    Shop for updated supplies that are recommended by both CDC and WHO to protect your children and yourself.