There's so much that doctors and infectious disease experts are learning every day in the fight against COVID-19 and now doctors believe there is a link between the disease and a mysterious pediatric condition that killed 3 children in New York State.

It's known as "pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome" and as NBC News and the New York Times report, health officials are on alert after this syndrome (similar to toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, a common cause of heart disease in children) was noted in dozens of children in the United States.

And the numbers are climbing. As CNN reports, "Doctors are investigating cases in at least 150 children, most of them in New York." As many as 18 states have seen cases and some of the children hav tested positive for COVID-19.

Earlier this month health officials in New York City warned parents should be aware of this because if children have a fever, rash, abdominal pain or vomiting they should call their doctor. The condition is rare, but some of the children hospitalized with this have required ventilation. A 5-year-old child in New York City and two other children in other parts of the state have died from the condition, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

In an alert to NYC health care providers earlier this month, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for the New York City Department of Health writes: "A pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, recently reported by authorities in the United Kingdom, is also being observed among children and young adults in New York City and elsewhere in the United States. Clinical features vary, depending on the affected organ system, but have been noted to include features of Kawasaki disease or features of shock; however, the full spectrum of disease is not yet known."

Dr. Daskalakis continues: "All patients had subjective or measured fever and more than half reported rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. Respiratory symptoms were reported in less than half of these patients."

New York is not the first area to note this mysterious syndrome in kids. During a news briefing, World Health Organization scientist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove explained: "There are some recent rare descriptions of children in some European countries that have had this inflammatory syndrome, which is similar to the Kawasaki syndrome, but it seems to be very rare."

"If [your child has] a fever, their energy level is off, their appetite is off, they're developing a rash, their lips look extra red, their tongue is looking extra red, those I think are the early signs that we want parents not to discount them and say 'oh they'll be better tomorrow' but to reach out to your pediatrician, have that conversation and then do the testing if your pediatrician thinks its indicated," says New York Dept. of Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

Bottom line: Parents should not panic (this is rare) but should be aware so that they can get early medical treatment for their children if they exhibit these symptoms.

[This is a developing story, first published May 5, 2020, and we'll update as more details come in.]