INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has reported its first cases of a new syndrome connected to COVID-19 that causes serious inflammation and medical complications in children.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said May 18 that Indiana had its first known incidence of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

While children have generally been less affected by COVID-19 and have been less likely to get ill with the novel coronavirus, the new syndrome has come onto the scene and raising alarms among medical providers.

“On April 26, 2020, clinicians in the United Kingdom (UK) recognized increased reports of previously healthy children presenting with a severe inflammatory syndrome with Kawasaki disease-like features. The cases occurred in children testing positive for current or recent infection by SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention info page states. “Patients presented with a persistent fever and a constellation of symptoms including hypotension, multiorgan (e.g., cardiac, gastrointestinal, renal, hematologic, dermatologic and neurologic) involvement, and elevated inflammatory markers. Respiratory symptoms were not present in all cases.”

As of this week, more than 100 such cases have been identified in minors in New York City, which suffered one of the U.S.’s worst outbreaks of coronavirus.

While doctors are still learning more about the illness, it appears to be linked to current or recent COVID-19 infections in youngsters.

In order to be classified as the new inflammatory syndrome, a patient under 21 must present with fever, lab evidence of inflammation and evidence of a clinically severe illness requiring hospitalization with multisystem organ involvement. The illness must also have no alternative plausible diagnosis and the child needs to either have a current COVID-19 infection, COVID-19 antibodies from a past infection or recent exposure to an infected person within the prior four weeks.

“This is something we’re starting to see around the world,” Box said in reporting Indiana has had its first case.

Information about the inflammatory syndrome has been issued to health departments and health care providers. Box said health care providers should report suspected cases to local and state health departments, even if the patient also meets the criteria for Kawasaki disease.

The CDC states its currently unknown if this new inflammatory syndrome affects only children or can affect adults too, but the initial cases seen worldwide have been in younger patients.

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