Doctors across the country are trying to piece together information involving a seriously inflammatory condition in children that may be linked to the coronavirus.
The condition is similar to Kawasaki disease, a rare illness involving inflamed arteries. Dozens of potential cases have been identified in New York, and a handful in Los Angeles County, but what should parents be aware of and who is most at risk?
Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a pulmonary and critical care physician with USC joined Eyewitness News for a Skype interview and shared more information on the developing situation.
Can you explain more about what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children?
"I think the bigger picture here is are children at a higher risk for complications of COVID-19. Look at the data between early February and April of this year, the CDC stated that 150,000 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States. Less than 2% were children, so when I hear this number it does provide me with some reassurance, granted there was a lot of limited availability of testing at the time. But where are we right now?
If you're an infant, meaning less than one year of age, you are at a higher risk of compilations of COVID-19 because your immune system is not developed yet. Children 1-18 of age, they may have minor symptoms or no symptoms at all, assuming their immune system is good and they have no other problems like heart and lung disease. But what is the big topic, is this mysterious and unfortunately deadly illness that the CDC now calls multisystem inflammatory syndrome, and they released some criteria to help clinicians kind of identify it.
It has features of the Kawasaki disease, features of toxic shock syndrome and it might be associated with COVID-19. Bottom line: Children are not at a higher risk for complications of COVID-19, however, we're still collecting so much data to see if we need to connect those dots."
It's not exactly Kawasaki disease, but can you explain what the condition is and what are the symptoms?
"Kawasaki disease is a rare inflammatory disease that affects children less than five years of age. It mainly involves the medium-sized arteries in the body. You could identify and treat it, most children do well, but we're always worried about the heart complications that can occur. Parents always ask me, 'how do I identify it?' so I think of two things. Number one is high, persistent fevers, number two is the color red. Red eyes, red tongue, red palms and red skin...If your child has high, persistent fevers, contact your pediatrician immediately."