The World Health Organization is calling on clinicians around the world to be on the look out for new health conditions that have presented themselves amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Children are said to be experiencing these conditions with recent reports from Europe and North America describing its effect on clusters of children and adolescents.

In a statement, the WHO says a multisystem inflammatory condition with some features similar to those of Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome, have led to the hospitalisation of children and adolescents. It says case reports and small series have described a presentation of acute illness accompanied by a hyper-inflammatory syndrome, leading to multi-organ failure and shock. The health body notes that Initial hypotheses are that this syndrome may be related to COVID-19 based on initial laboratory testing.  Children have been treated with anti-inflammatory treatment, including parenteral immunoglobulin and steroids.

The WHO says it is essential to characterise this syndrome and its risk factors, to understand causality, and describe treatment interventions, explaining that the full spectrum of disease is not yet clear. There is also no clarity on whether the geographical distribution in Europe and North America reflects a true pattern, or if the condition has simply not been recognized elsewhere.

WHO says there is now an urgent need for collection of standardised data describing clinical presentations, severity, outcomes, and epidemiology.