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(2nd LD) S. Korea looking into 2 suspected cases of Kawasaki-like illness in children

Welfare/Medicine 17:04 May 26, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 5-6, 12)

SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Tuesday reported two suspected cases of an unknown inflammatory syndrome in children possibly linked to the new coronavirus for the first time.

The two cases -- one under the age of 10 and one teenager -- were reported in Seoul for the disease whose symptoms are similar to the rare illness Kawasaki, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The KCDC said the two children did not test positive for COVID-19.

"One of the two suspected cases currently do not fit the definition of the disease," KCDC's Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook told a briefing. "However, we are looking into both reported cases."

The disease, named Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), first emerged in Britain in late April. Hundreds of children in a total of 13 countries have since been treated in hospitals, with some cases leading to death.

People wearing masks walk at Seoul Station on May 26, 2020, as the quarantine authorities began to require all bus, taxi and airplane passengers to wear masks the same day amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonhap)

The cases were first reported in Europe and then in the United States and later in Asian countries, adding to speculation that certain populations may be more genetically susceptible to the illness.

The symptoms of MIS-C include inflammation of the blood vessels, swollen hands and feet, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, which are similar to those of the Kawasaki disease, a rare illness that occurs in 1 in 10,000 children under the age of 5.

There is no currently no proof that MIS-SC is linked to COVID-19, with the exact cause remaining unidentified, according to the KCDC. The disease remains exceedingly rare.

The KCDC published a case definition for the disease. Children and adolescents under 19 show symptoms of a fever of 38 degrees Celsius or above lasting 24 hours or longer, with inflammation and multisystem (two or more) organ involvement in severe clinical condition requiring hospitalization.

No other pathogenic cause of inflammation should be found, and evidence of COVID-19 infection, or history of COVID-19 exposure within four weeks prior to the onset of illness, should be found, according to the KCDC.

The suspected cases come just a day after the KCDC established a system to detect and analyze MIS-C. Doctors are advised to report to health authorities if they identify patients showing such symptoms.

The country, meanwhile, reported 19 new COVID-19 cases, with 16 being local infections, raising the total caseload to 11,225, according to the KCDC.

khj@yna.co.kr
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