Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A 7-year-old boy from Westchester County is the second child in New York state to die from pediatric multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome tied to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. A 5-year-old boy died earlier in the week from the same syndrome at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital in New York City.

The childhood ailment has affected at least 73 children in New York state and authorities are now looking for other potential cases across the country. Cases have also been reported in Washington, D.C., California, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington state and New Jersey, where a 4-year-old died with symptoms last month.

It has been previously thought that children are less likely to suffer any serious complications from the coronavirus.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke about the matter at his press conference on Friday. “Right now we have a new issue that we’re looking at,” Cuomo said. “We’re seeing some cases where children affected with the COVID virus can become ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome that literally causes inflammation in their blood vessels.”

Dr. Dial Hewlett, from the Westchester County Department of Health, said at Cuomo’s news conference that the disease has been most common in households where parents or grandparents tested positive for COVID-19 but the children did not show symptoms initially before becoming seriously ill. “We must emphasize that based on what we know thus far, it appears to be a very rare condition,” Hewlett said.

“This is very serious,” County Executive George Latimer said at the news conference. “The disease can be fatal, and we want to make sure everyone in Westchester County is aware to be on the lookout for symptoms that may lead to this.”

The symptoms include a prolonged fever of more than five days and difficulty in feeding for infants or drinking fluids in older children. Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting and a change in skin color—either becoming pale and patchy or blue—is also common in most young patients. Children also exhibit trouble breathing or a racing heart beat in addition to mood changes, lethargy and confusion.

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Cuomo urged parents to seek medical attention if their children exhibits any symptoms whether they are living in a house with COVID-19 patients or not. “So this is every parent’s nightmare, right?” Cuomo said. “That your child may actually be affected by this virus. But it’s something we have to consider seriously now.”

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