If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve probably heard about a serious illness that is linked to COVID-19 and primarily affects children – Kawasaki disease. Although the disease is still classified as rare, cases have been popping up in Montreal, Quebec, New York, and Louisiana. Should parents be worried? Are the recent cases of Kawasaki disease in kids really tied to coronavirus? Here’s what we know.
What is Kawasaki Disease? What are the Symptoms?
Unlike COVID-19, Kawasaki disease is not a novel disease. The first case was reported in Japan in the 1960s. This inflammatory disease causes high fever and inflammation of blood vessels, which can lead to other serious health issues. Kawasaki can be fatal if inflamed vessels impact blood flow to the heart. Kids under 5 are the most at risk for the disease. Boys are more likely to develop this “autoimmune-like” condition than girls.
Symptoms include swollen glands, red eyes, rash or peeling skin around the groin area, legs and chest, irritated throat and mouth, and a swollen, bright-red tongue. Ten to fourteen days after symptoms appear, the heart can become inflamed. However, the disease is treatable, especially if caught early, and most children recover with no problems. The key is to call your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
How are Coronavirus and Kawasaki Disease Linked?
Kawasaki disease is an immune response believed to be triggered by antigens that enter the body, like viruses, bacteria, and chemicals. Doctors believe that COVID-19 is triggering the recent cases of Kawasaki that have been reported. These kids are testing positive for COVID-19, but their symptoms align more with Kawasaki disease.
Doctors are still learning about how coronavirus impacts children. So far, they’re finding that although kids are being infected by COVID-19 at a lower rate than adults, some are hit harder with symptoms than others. Doctors believe it’s an individual’s immune system that determines the severity of symptoms. It’s important that parents still put safeguards in place to prevent their children from catching coronavirus.