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This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. (Provided by the CDC)

Public health officials in Colorado said Wednesday they are investigating three possible cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in the state, the reaction some children are suspected to have after being infected with the new coronavirus.


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The patients are or have been treated at Children’s Hospital in Colorado.

While COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, does not typically cause serious illness among children, there have been a small, but growing, number of multi-system inflammatory syndrome cases thought to be linked to the virus identified across the globe.

New York City and New Jersey have seen dozens of cases of the disease. It has also been found in kids in Italy and England.

Dr. Samuel Dominguez of Children’s Hospital Colorado encouraged parents to be vigilant of any symptoms in their kids. Multiple days of high fever and abdominal pain are signs that a child may be suffering from the syndrome.

Red eyes, red lips and rashes are also symptoms.

“Because this is a new and emerging syndrome, there is still a lot that we do not know,” Dominguez said.

The syndrome typically presents weeks after a child is infected with coronavirus, suggesting it is a post-infectious or inflammatory response. It can affect people up to 20 years old, but often presents in teenagers.

Gov. Jared Polis said he wanted to give parents a “heads up” about the syndrome’s presence in Colorado but that he doesn’t expect it to affect child care center operations or the potential reopening of schools for in-person learning in the fall.

“While the syndrome is seldom fatal, it often requires clinical intervention and it can cause lasting heart damage as well,” Polis said.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s epidemiologist, said information on the potential cases have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A determination on whether they are confirmed cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome is expected in the coming days.

One of the cases was identified in a patient who was previously ill. Herlihy said state health officials are examining other earlier cases among children to see if they potentially had the syndrome.

“We can’t predict how many kids in Colorado might wind up with this syndrome,” she said. “We do know that it appears to be rare.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks to reporters in Wheat Ridge on Monday, May 18, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

“So far, so good”

It has been about three weeks since Colorado transitioned from a “stay-at-home” order to a “safer-at-home” period and Polis said so far the results are encouraging.

“So far, so good,” he said Wednesday at a briefing with reporters at the governor’s mansion in Denver. “But we always are wary and worry if there is a spike in the next few days. We need to know that.”

Polis said Coloradans have done a “very impressive job” staying home, although he acknowledged some have flouted his guidelines. He said, however, that the people who break the rules are in the minority.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment now estimates that about 167,000 Coloradans have contracted the coronavirus. The vast majority of those cases have gone undetected either because of a lack of testing or because the infected people were asymptomatic.

That number represents about 3% of the state’s population, which public health officials say means that the disease still has plenty of room left to grow.

Polis is set to decide on Monday if restaurants statewide can reopen for in-person dining in the coming days. He also said he will make decisions about whether late-season skiing can be allowed at Arapahoe Basin and whether children’s summer camps can operate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....