In at least six countries around the world, close to 100 cases of “a rare but potentially lethal inflammatory syndrome in children” have been reported.
In some cases, reports the Guardian, “it appears to be linked to coronavirus infections”, but doctors in Britain, the US, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland are still investigating the condition.
The UK’s NHS sent out a warning to paediatricians regarding a spike in the number of children admitted to intensive care units, showing “a mix of toxic shock and a condition known as Kawasaki disease, an inflammatory disorder that affects the blood vessel, heart and other organs”.
In the UK, as of yesterday, 19 children had been affected, and none had died:
The French health minister, Olivier Veran, said on Wednesday that the country had more than a dozen children with inflammation around the heart, and while there was insufficient evidence to prove a link with coronavirus, he said the cases were being taken “very seriously.”
At least three children in the US aged six months to eight years are being treated for a similar condition. Mark Gorelik, a specialist treating the patients at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said all had fever and inflammation of the heart and gut.
“Right now, we’re at the very beginning of trying to understand what that represents,” he told Reuters. Gorelik believes the cases are not Kawasaki disease but a similar condition that shares a common cause, namely an infectious agent that triggers an immune response.
At Stanford University in California, a six-month-old was admitted to hospital with Kawasaki disease, and was later diagnosed with coronavirus.
Other children admitted for treatment for Kawasaki disease have also tested positive for the coronavirus, but there have also been negative coronavirus test results.
Again, to reiterate, there is insufficient evidence to conclusively link the two, but doctors are concerned enough that they are investigating.
Dr Nazima Pathan, a consultant in paediatric intensive care in Cambridge, said the number of children admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 was relatively low, but that some were presenting with what looked like toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease. “These children have had a severe and prolonged inflammatory response to Covid-19 infection and they have not had severe lung disease, unlike the majority of cases in adults,” she said.
“Whilst this is an evolving situation, it is clear that these symptoms are reported in only handfuls of cases,” Pathan added. “The important message is that if parents are worried about their children’s health, they should seek medical advice.”
During Tuesday’s discussion between leading doctors about COVID-19 in children, which was hosted by the World Health Organization, the syndrome, which is yet to be named, was discussed at length.
Whether or not it is a rare coronavirus-related inflammatory syndrome, or is caused by another pathogen entirely, remains to be seen.
You can read more on the subject here.
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