By Anna Meiler

BOSTON (CBS) — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a health advisory Thursday about a mysterious illness affecting children.

“In the middle of this pandemic people are recognizing this is a distinct syndrome related to COVID exposure or COVID infection,” said Dr. Kevin Friedman, a pediatric cardiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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Dr. Friedman has seen multi-system inflammatory syndrome firsthand at Boston Children’s Hospital where they have treated six patients in all. As of Friday morning, there was just one patient in the hospital and they were not in the ICU.

“Children have been presenting with persistent high fevers, and often abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, and then in some cases with very low blood pressure,” Dr. Friedman said. “The best hypothesis is the COVID virus is triggering an innate immune response which goes overboard in attacking the children’s organs.”

The CDC and the state of Massachusetts are now asking doctors to report suspected cases. So far, 11 have been reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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“The reason this order is so important is to put out what the symptoms are that primary care and hospitals should be looking for to report this condition,” said Marylou Sudders, the Secretary of Health and Human Services for Massachusetts.

“I think first to get a sense of the incidence of where it’s happening and how frequently and I think that in the future can lead to evaluations of various therapies,” Dr. Friedman said.

While this is a concerning illness that needs more research, Dr. Friedman said, he wants to reassure families.

“This is still an extremely rare condition and the vast majority of kids who are exposed to COVID have minimal or no symptoms,” he said.

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CBS News reports that there are about 200 suspected cases nationwide.

Anna Meiler