Paediatricians Urge Parents To Pay Attention To Alarming Symptoms That Could Be Linked To Kawasaki Disease
"A typical surge in Kawasaki disease" or the "typical post-infectious response to a COVID infection"? Doctor are seeking the answers.
Paediatricians are now sending urgent warnings to parents to call their doctors if their child has symptoms like fever, vomiting or abdominal pain after multiple cities throughout the United States have reported on new and unusual COVID-19 related illness in several paediatric patients.
15 critically ill paediatric patients with no previous underlying health conditions who were confirmed with COVID-19 have been hospitalised, according to New York City health officials.
These paediatric patients, between the age of 2 and 15 have developed serious inflammatory disease and toxic shock, leading doctors in suspecting whether COVID-19 could be the cause—although confirmed linked has yet to be established.
While none of the children have died from this syndrome, six children thus far in New York City have died from COVID-19, according to data from the health department.
Unusual COVID-19 Symptoms in Kids
Apart from initial symptoms observed such a low-grade fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting, Dr. George Ofori, Pediatric Critical Care Director at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital said in a statement that “others presented first with a rash, conjunctivitis, and/or cracked lips”.
This adds on to growing concerns where children across London and other regions of the UK have previously also fallen severely ill over similar inflammatory symptoms, including a rash and low blood pressure.
While rare, Paediatric cardiologist Dr. Nadine Choueiter of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx said that symptoms can include fever for more than five days, rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, red eyes and swollen hands and feet.
British paediatricians and health officials have also issued a warning about possible links between COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease in young children.
Heart problems and low blood pressure had led to shock in some patients, according to Dr. Ofori.
The toxic shock is said by Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot to resemble Kawasaki disease as “a rare illness in children that involves inflammation of the blood vessels, including coronary arteries”.
Conjunctivitis, or inflammation of the eye, and swollen lymph nodes are also symptoms of Kawasaki disease, said Barbot.
Other Potential Health Threats
The health commissioner also highlighted other potential health threats to children that “had not been previously observed” in which includes “an inflammatory cardiovascular response in children”.
This is consistent with Dr. Ofori’s observations where some patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 two to three weeks before these symptoms developed.
As such, doctors seek to find the answers to whether this inflammatory syndrome is “a typical surge in Kawasaki disease” or the “typical post-infectious response to a COVID infection”.
However, more specific information will still have to be retrieved from paediatric hospitals.
“Whether the underlying condition is COVID-19 or the body’s response to COVID-19 is not known at this time. While it is too early to definitively say what is causing this we believe it is important to alert the public as to what we are seeing,” said Dr. Ofori.
Although cases are still rare, paediatricians emphasise on the importance of talking about the inflammatory syndrome and raising awareness.
According to them, many children are found to be tested positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies apart from experiencing “serious inflammatory symptoms”.
And even if children do get tested negative for the coronavirus, paediatricians believe that they could have been exposed to the virus by immediate family members.
“Thankfully most children with confirmed COVID-19 have had mild symptoms, rarely becoming ill. However, children with underlying health conditions who develop COVID-19 may be more at risk for having more severe illness. Though it occurs rarely, healthy children can become severely ill from COVID-19” said state Health Department in a statement to NBC New York.
Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include:
- A high fever (as high as 39-40 °C) lasting at least five days
- Red eyes
- A body rash, especially on the stomach, chest, and genitals
- Sore irritated throat
- Swollen, red, cracked lips
- Swollen tongue with a white coating and big red bumps (called “strawberry tongue”)
- BCG scar may be prominent
- Swollen, red feet and hands
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck