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British health authorities in a warning to health care professionals over the weekend said that some severely ill pediatric patients in the country — including some who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus — have presented an “unusual clinical picture” that includes inflammatory symptoms possibly linked to COVID-19.
The U.K. Pediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS), citing an email alert from the National Health Service (NHS) England, said in a news release that health officials have reported “a small rise in the number of cases of critically ill children presenting with an unusual clinical picture,” or, more specifically, a “multi-system inflammatory state” that may be connected to the novel virus.
“The cases have in common overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease with blood parameters consistent with severe COVID-19 in children. Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms have been a common feature as has cardiac inflammation,” the NHS notice reads, as per PICS.
As a result, some of the children have required intensive care.
The NHS alert said the cases present a “growing concern” that a COVID-19-linked inflammatory syndrome is emerging in British children, “or that there may be another, as yet unidentified, infectious pathogen associated with these cases,” the alert reads, as reported by the Health Service Journal.
“Thankfully Kawasaki-like diseases are very rare, as currently are serious complications in children related to COVID-19, but it is important that clinicians are made aware of any potential emerging links so that they are able to give children and young people the right care fast,” said Simon Kenny, NHS England’s national clinical director for children and young people, in a statement. Kenny reminded parents to call their child’s doctor or emergency health officials for any health-related concerns.
The news comes after a preliminary study published last week found that most children who contract the novel coronavirus will recover within two weeks and display only mild symptoms while ill.
The study, conducted by researchers in Italy and published Wednesday in JAMA Pediatrics, reviewed 18 studies published between early December 2019 and March 3. Overall, the researchers looked at data from 1,065 pediatric patients who were mostly from China and all under the age of 19.
With the exceptation of one 13-month-old infant who had a severe case of COVID-19 and another 30-hour-old baby who developed “mild respiratory distress” after contracting the virus from his or her mother, most of the pediatric patients reviewed had fever, dry cough and fatigue or were asymptomatic. Though some of the children were hospitalized, they generally only required supportive care and recovered within one to two weeks, the researchers said.