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Kawasaki, Kids, and the (K)oronavirus, what you need to know

By: Dr. Eric Levene

While sheltering at home, we have become news junkies hanging on every piece of information COVID related.  The latest is a potentially scary illness in children.  The New York State Department of Health is reporting 15 cases of children hospitalized with signs of shock and something called Kawasaki disease.

What is Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki Disease is a rare childhood illness that pediatricians have known about for years.  This illness causes the walls of blood vessels to become inflamed.  Symptomatic patients usually have high fevers for at least 5 days, rash, cracked lips, and swollen glands in the neck.  If not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, the illness can cause swelling of the coronary arteries and lead to heart problems in children. The good news is with proper treatment this serious complication can be avoided.

The cause of Kawasaki Disease is still unknown. But why are we seeing recent clusters in New York, England, Italy, and France? There is speculation that there may be some relation to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID 19.  Only 4 of the 15 patients reported in New York State tested positive for the virus, although 6 of the patients that tested negative, had positive antibody tests.  We are not certain about the validity of the antibody test used on these patients.

What is happening in NYS?

The Department of Health in New York has released a statement describing 15 cases of children with shock-like symptoms both with and without Kawasaki symptoms. Most of these children showed symptoms that included fever rash, abdominal pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. Only about half had respiratory symptoms. The good news here is that although the children are very ill, no child has died.

Every day we learn more about COVID 19.  Most children do well with this illness.  These new reported symptoms are very rare. While the news is scary, remember these children are very ill and look sick.  What should parents do?  If your child is feverish, not drinking, or developing a rash, call your Allied pediatrician.  We can set up a Telehealth visit and your pediatrician can evaluate your child and answer all your questions.