Australian experts investigate mysterious coronavirus-linked illness in children

"It's extremely hard to diagnose".

The pandemic has killed almost 295,000 people, with total infections surpassing 4.31 million, while over 1.52 million people have recovered from the disease, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Esper says the main indicator of the disease can be found in the heart. Physicians must diagnose Kawasaki disease based exclusively on a clinical evaluation of symptoms, and those symptoms overlap with other known inflammatory syndromes.

Most of the children had no significant respiratory symptoms during their time in hospital, although seven were put on a ventilator to stabilise their cardiovascular systems.

For example, contrary to some early reports, it does not appear to be directly linked to a symptom known as "COVID toes," which can show up in people who are exposed to the virus-particularly children-but is believed to be benign.

Medical professionals have started referring to the illness as pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome. Kawasaki disease causes the blood vessels to become inflamed and swollen, which can lead to complications in the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries).

The youngest of these children was four-years-old.

New Jersey has seen at least 15 cases since March.

"We know that in adults, who of course have much more disease than children do, the big problems are caused by an inflammatory process, and this looks like an inflammatory process, albeit a very different one".

The state Health Department is investigating more cases of a coronavirus complication that has killed three children in NY.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to issue a similar alert.

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In Los Angeles, doctors at Children's Hospital have confirmed they're treating at least three patients with the disease, according to KABC-TV.

The illness - which has yet to be identified - has been seen in both children who have tested positive for COVID-19 and those who have not had coronavirus.

Chicago doctors have also reported several cases. While doctors urge parents not to panic, and stress that the total number of children impacted is incredibly small, it's still been cause for concern at the hospital. Frank Belmonte, Chief Medical Officer at Advocate Children's Hospital, told WLS-TV.

"Some patients have deteriorated quickly and have required intensive care unit admission", the alert reads.

The condition's now being referred to as "Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Potentially Associated with COVID-19", Boston Children's Hospital said in a recent article posted to its website by the communications staff.

'But rarely, a child will develop this hyper-inflammatory state'.

In Italy, Dr. Angelo Ravelli of Gaslini Hospital and a member of the Italian Paediatricians' Society sent a note to 10,000 colleagues raising his concerns.

Some possible cases have also been reported in France and Belgium.

"The CMO continues to engage with paediatric specialists nationally on this matter and Australia is in a good position to pick up an early signal of increased cases of Kawasaki Disease over and above background seasonal variation", the department spokeswoman said.

"We've never seen the coronavirus before, but we've been dealing with Kawasaki disease for decades", Esper said.

  • Sonia Alvarado