The Strange ‘Kawasaki-Like Disease’ Attacking Children

A new detailed analysis just released from the hub of Italy’s Covid-19 outbreak found 10 cases of a Kawasaki disease-like illness in children, adding to reports of about 90 similar cases from New York and England.

Kawasaki disease is a rare condition that typically affects children younger than five years old. It causes blood vessels to become inflamed and swollen. Typical symptoms include fever and rash, red eyes, dry or cracked lips or mouth, redness on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and swollen glands.

But it is a disease that is very similar to Kawasaki disease that has the medical community worried.

Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome or PMIS is a new health condition that has started appearing in children during the pandemic and it shares similar symptoms to Kawasaki disease, marked by a persistent fever that lasts several days, inflammation and poor function in one or more organs. Kawasaki disease also presents suddenly, although it’s usually only seen in children under 5. PMIS is showing up in patients up to 21 years old, although most of the New York cases have involved kids between the ages 5 and 14. While most children do fully recover, some children get sicker more rapidly, and this can lead to organ failure if left untreated.

Three children in New York have died from this mysterious infection. New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo said that New York State and the Department of Health are at the “forefront” of investigating this nationally, and urged that “parents should be aware, and parents should be informed of this.”

“It’s a wide array of symptoms, as you can see, which makes it even harder for parents to know exactly what they’re dealing with,” Cuomo said previously.

“As a parent, I can tell you this is a parent’s worst nightmare, right?” he continued. “We thought that children were not specifically affected by the virus. To now find out they might be, and it might be several weeks later … this is truly disturbing.”

Doctors in Italy have become the latest to raise the alarm over a worrying spike in children getting sick with a rare but serious inflammatory syndrome they say is tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

A new study, published in the medical journal The Lancet on Wednesday, found a significant rise in the number of cases of the syndrome in the Bergamo province of Italy shortly after the coronavirus pandemic spread to the region.

The researchers found that while only 19 children had been diagnosed with the condition in the area in the five years preceding the middle of February, there were 10 cases diagnosed since then, all between March 17 and April 14, which was after the coronavirus pandemic spread to the region. That spike represents a 30-fold increase in the disease’s incidence rate, according to the study.

So what can parents do?

Well, first, it’s important to note that it’s hard to diagnose. There’s no specific test and doctors have torule out other diseases that can have the same symptoms.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now planning to release information to doctors nationwide to be on the lookout for it.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton said parents should look for symptoms, including fever, rash, swollen hands and feet, and abdominal pain.

“We have to emphasize this is still rare and uncommon,” said the ABC News chief medical correspondent. “Doctors are following it closely because it’s evolving.”

Doctors say many of the children with the Kawasaki-like disease test negative for COVID-19 but later test positive for the antibodies.

Posted on May 15, 2020Dr. P. Gould, BDO Medical Contributor

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