Coronavirus could be tied to a rare but serious illness in children, UK doctors say

On Sunday, the Pediatric Intensive Care Society UK (PICS) tweeted an "urgent alert" from the National Health Service England about a slight increase in the number of critically ill children presenting "overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease with blood parameters" – some of which the children test positive for Covid-19.

The urgent warning, sent to the UK's National Health Service (NHS) England general practitioner, warned that there has been an apparent increase in the number of children of all ages having multiple inflammatory status requiring intensive treatment over the past three weeks and also in other regions of the UK, ”the Health Service Journal first reported on Monday.

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The alert added: "There is a growing concern that a [covid-19] related inflammatory syndrome appears in children in the United Kingdom, or it may be another, yet unidentified, infectious pathogen associated with these cases, "added HSJ.

In a statement sent over the weekend to medical professionals looking for critically ill children, PICS said that "the cases have common overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease with blood parameters consistent with severe Covid-19 in children. Stomach and gastrointestinal disorders "Symptoms have been a common feature that has heart inflammation."

Kawasaki disease, also known as Kawasaki syndrome, is a rare childhood disease that causes the walls of blood vessels in the body to become inflamed.

The group said that although there were "very few cases" of critically ill children with Covid-19 admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit in the UK and around the world, they were aware of a "small number of children nationally" that fit the clinical picture described in the NHS alert.

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There are still many unknowns regarding Covid-19, but in a report released in April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that children who have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the United States usually have mild cases of the virus.

The number of Covid-19 cases among children is still small, and while some children and infants have been ill with Covid-19, adults account for most of the known cases to date, according to the CDC.

Health professionals encourage calm

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Health professionals have reassured parents that the risk of children becoming seriously ill with the virus is still small.

"Fortunately, Kawasaki-like diseases are very rare, which are currently serious complications in children related to Covid-19, but it is important that clinicians be made aware of potential new connections so that they can give children and adolescents the right care quickly," said Professor Simon Kenny, NHS National Clinical Director for Children and Adolescents in a statement sent to CNN.

In response to the reports, Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, said that although a small number of children may become seriously ill with Covid-19, it is "very rare" with evidence showing that children appear to be least affected by the virus.

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"However, our advice is the same: Parents should be assured that children are not likely to be seriously ill with Covid-19, but if they are concerned about children's health for some reason, they should seek help from health professionals," Viner said .

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Dr. Tina Tan, professor of pediatrics and infectious disease at Northwestern University & # 39; s Feinberg School of Medicine, said the NHS England alert was important information to have here in the United States.

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"I think it's very important that such a warning goes out, not to scare anyone, but that people should be aware that this can happen. There have been an increased number of cases like this reported in Italy as well as Spain. Here in the US, I think we're just starting to see it, "Tan told CNN on Monday.

"In Chicago at Lurie Children's Hospital, we're just starting to see an increase in the number of older adolescents being admitted to hospitals with fairly severe Covid disease that requires treatment," Tan said. "Here in Chicago, some of the kids have some of the underlying conditions that will predispose you to having more severe Covid disease, such as obesity and hypertension."

Tan added that racial differences also emerge among Covid-19 cases in children.

"From Los Angeles, they reported that younger African Americans and Latinos were more severely affected by Covid and were actually hospitalized," Tan said.

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