WEDNESDAY, April 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Children don’t usually get seriously ill from the new coronavirus, but doctors raise the alarm that some children with COVID-19 infections in Europe have developed Kawasaki disease, a condition It can trigger serious heart problems.
Children in the United States are not immune to this complication, experts say.
Dr. Michael Portman is director of the Kawasaki Disease Patient Program at Seattle Children’s Hospital. He said, “The problem is that the symptoms of COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease overlap, and we are concerned that parents of children with fever may not want to take them to the hospital for fear of COVID, but it could be Kawasaki disease and not will be treated. ”
In addition, he explained that parents of children diagnosed with COVID-19 may not be overly concerned about fever if other symptoms are not obvious, but “in children, COVID may trigger an inflammatory response that doctors would call Kawasaki disease.” explained.
He said he heard scattered reports of Kawasaki disease in children in the United States, as well as more cases in Europe.
The UK Pediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS) issued an urgent alert this week to warn physicians caring for critically ill patients with COVID-19 that England’s National Health Service (NHS) reported a small increase in the number of patients who also appear to have Kawasaki disease. Patients with both conditions can have heart inflammation and other serious heart problems.
However, the notice also tried to reassure parents. “If you are a parent, rest assured that serious illness as a result of COVID-19 still appears to be a very rare event in children,” the PICS statement said.
So what symptoms should parents watch for?
The most telling symptom is a very high fever for five days. The fever is usually at least 101 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can be 104 degrees F or higher, according to the American Heart Association. Portman said that fever can come and go during that time, but if your child has a high fever for four to five days, it should be evaluated by a doctor.
“Always call a pediatrician for a long-lasting fever,” said Portman.
Other common symptoms of Kawasaki disease, according to the American Heart Association, include:
- Rash, which may appear on the back, chest, or abdomen.
- Red and irritated eyes
- Swollen hands or feet, which may also be red.
- Swelling or changes around the mouth.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
- Abdominal pain or other symptoms of the digestive system.
Portman said Kawasaki disease generally affects children ages 5 and younger, although it can occur in children of all ages. Portman said it affects about 20 children for every 100,000 in the United States each year.
Portman said the exact cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown. But doctors believe that a virus or bacteria causes inflammation and an overreaction of the immune system. A similar process, which triggers massive inflammation, can also occur in some patients with COVID-19, he explained.
If identified early, Kawasaki disease can often be treated effectively (albeit costly), Portman said. If left untreated, Kawasaki disease can lead to a coronary artery aneurysm, which means there is a bulky, weak spot in the main blood vessel that carries blood to the heart.
Dr. Tina Tan, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said CNN that the NHS England alert was information the United States needed to know.
“I think it is really important that an alert like that be triggered, not to alarm anyone, but for people to be aware of the fact that this can happen. A greater number of cases like this have been reported in Italy and Spain ” Here in the United States, I think we are starting to see it, “Tan said.
Only some of the affected youth tested positive for COVID-19, so it remains unclear how, or even if, the two conditions are connected.
In addition to the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, the Associated Press noted that possible cases of COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease may have occurred in Belgium and France.