Released: 5/14/2020 11:53:31 AM
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – The latest twist on coronavirus involves the disease’s ability to attack children in rare circumstances.
Governor Andrew Cuomo warned over the weekend of “truly disturbing” trend where children are developing symptoms that are similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. As of Wednesday, there were 102 cases of an inflammatory illness in children that experts believe may be related to COVID-19.
But with only a handful of cases statewide, how concerned should the general public be that their kids will catch this illness?
“We know that viruses for many, many years can cause all sorts of inflammatory problems most likely because the immune system has an overreaction to the virus,” Dr. Steven Turkovich, Chief of Medicine at Oishei Children’s Hospital, said. “It’s not unthinkable to think that coronavirus is the same thing. We do know that the number of cases of this particular syndrome are very small so my suspicious is it’s going to be a rare complication of coronavirus, just as it’s a rare complication of most other viruses.”
In New York State there are more than 330,000 people who have tested positive for coronavirus. The vast majority of the cases are senior citizens and children only make up a small percentage of the disease. Still, the rare conditions have killed multiple children. No one under the age of 30 has died in Erie County from coronavirus.
Oishei Children’s Hospital does not have any direct evidence of the rare illnesses that have attacked children, though Turkovich said there were three cases that had symptoms that could be associated with it.
“The profile is not well defined,” Turkovich said. “The state is looking through those medical records now. The good news is all those kids are home and healthy now. We probably won’t be able to define that until there’s a consensus at the department of health and in the country and world on how we define this disease. ”
Dr. Steven Lana, a pediatrician and Managing Partner at Delaware Pediatrics, agreed with the governor’s assertion that this trend among some children is disturbing.
“I believe we should also keep in mind that these are rare in children,” Lana said. “This is another example of how much we have left to learn about coronavirus. When we first started hearing about it we were focusing on primarily respiratory symptoms and respiratory presentations. As time goes by, we’ve learned there’s gastrointestinal presentations. In adults…there’s strokes and heart attacks. There’s vascular issues. This virus is very dangerous and very contagious and potentially lethal.”
However, Lana stressed that children largely are not impacted the same way adults are and echoed Turkovich’s comments that it is rare.
Lana said the rare symptoms that include a strong fever for multiple days, rashes, lethargy, cracked lips, and possibly red eyes, will not be subtle.
“They’re very serious,” Lana said. “They can be treated but they’re very rare.”
Governor Cuomo has discussed the rare symptom among children in each of his news conferences this week.
“As a parent, I can tell you this is a parent’s worst nightmare,” Cuomo said. “We thought that children were not especially affected by the virus. To now find out that they might be and it might be several weeks later, this is truly disturbing. We raise it because it’s something parents should be aware of. We’re still finding more about it. The more we know the more we’ll communicate…If parents say ‘Should I be concerned?’ I say ‘You should be aware’.”
Click HERE to listen to the full interview with Dr. Turkovich.