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64 children in NY hit by illness possibly linked to COVID-19

The state health department has issued an advisory to hospitals to be on the lookout for multi-system inflammatory syndrome.

NEW YORK — Dozens of children in the state of New York have been hospitalized with a disease that may be linked to COVID-19, according to an advisory by the state health department.

As of Tuesday, there were at least 64 cases of what the state calls multi-system inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19. They were reported in children in New York hospitals.

"Thankfully most children with COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms, but in some, a dangerous inflammatory syndrome can develop," New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement. "While we continue to reduce cases through social distancing, discoveries like this remind us we are still in the middle of our response to this deadly pandemic."

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The health department notes that in the United Kingdom, a possible link has also been reported between pediatric COVID-19 and serious inflammatory disease.

"The inflammatory syndrome has features which overlap with Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome and may occur days to weeks after acute COVID-19 illness. It can include persistent fever, abdominal symptoms, rash, and even cardiovascular symptoms requiring intensive care," the health department said in a statement.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Kawasaki disease causes swelling in the walls of medium-sized arteries throughout the body. It can affect the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart. It mainly affects children. While it can be life-threatening, the clinic says it's usually treatable and most children recover without serious problems.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems -- including children -- it can cause more severe illness and death. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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