Kawasaki disease symptoms in kids in UK possibly linked to coronavirus
The UK’s National Health Service alerted doctors that more than a dozen children had been left in intensive care after developing toxic shock syndrome and in many, but not all of the cases, a disease of the blood vessels known as Kawasaki disease.
Despite Kawasaki disease first being identified about 50 years ago, doctors still don’t know what causes it but speculate it may be triggered by childhood infections.
It is the most commoncause of acquired heart disease in children in developed countries, and most cases occur in children under five years.
NHS officials wrote to general practitioners urging them to refer children with symptoms of Kawasaki and toxic shock syndrome to hospital following a rise in children needing intensive care treatment.
What is Kawasaki disease?
Kawasaki disease, also known as Kawasaki syndrome, is a rare childhood illness that causes the walls of the blood vessels in the body to become inflamed.
Symptoms include a high temperature lasting for five days or longer, alongside a rash, swollen glands in the neck, dry cracked lips, red fingers or toes and red eyes, according to the healthcare provider.
If treated, the symptoms usually become less severe, the NHS said, adding that the disease is not contagious.
British health authorities reported as many as 12 children, some of whom tested positive to COVID-19, were seriously ill in hospital with severe inflammation in the body.
It prompted Britain’s National Health Service to issue an alert warning that the condition could be related to COVID-19 in children, or that there “may be another as-yet-unidentified infectious pathogen associated with these cases”.
ANU professor Peter Collignon, an infectious disease physician and microbiologist said “We do need to study these children because we still don’t understand why children seem to get this [COVID-19] infection so much less than adults, but also why some people are getting these unusual reactions”.
“We have to learn from places [like the UK], where it’s more common, and use the information to make the best and most effective vaccines that are both safe and work.”
Italian and British medical experts are investigating a possible link between the coronavirus pandemic and clusters of severe inflammatory disease among infants who are arriving in hospital with high fevers and swollen arteries.
Doctors in northern Italy, one of the world’s hardest-hit areas during the pandemic, have reported extraordinarily large numbers of children under age 9 with severe cases of what appears to be Kawasaki disease, more common in parts of Asia.
Mr Hancock told LBC Radio: ‘There are some children who have died who didn’t have underlying health conditions.’
He had told the radio station: ‘It’s a new disease that we think may be caused by coronavirus and the Covid-19 virus. We’re not 100% sure – because some of the people who got it hadn’t tested positive – so we’re doing a lot of research now but it is something that we’re worried about.
‘It is rare – although it is very significant for those children who do get it, the number of cases is small.
The link to Covid-19
The link between Kawasaki disease and Covid-19 is unclear.
Professor Rosalind Smyth, director and professor of child health, UCL Great Ormond St Institute of Child Health, said current evidence suggests that most children with Covid-19 who receive medical attention have mild symptoms, with about half having a fever, around 40% having a cough and less than 10% of reported cases having gastrointestinal symptoms.
“However, our understanding of this condition in children is limited. Covid-19 does present, in adults, as an inflammatory disease affecting a number of organs. We should investigate fully these children, with SARS-CoV-2, who present with a multi-system inflammatory disease to assess whether this is a presentation of Covid-19,” Smyth said in a statement Monday.
Australian doctors on alert after Kawasaki disease in children linked to Covid-19
Australian paediatric doctors will change their approach to children with a little understood illness that causes blood vessels to become inflamed and in some cases leads to heart disease, following overseas reports that Covid-19 may be associated with the rare condition.