US doctors say they may have seen a possible complication of coronavirus infection in a young child: a rare inflammatory condition called Kawasaki disease.
Britain’s National Health Service sent an alert to doctors Sunday saying they had seen cases of atypical Kawasaki disease that could be linked to coronavirus.
A team at Stanford Children’s Hospital said they had, also. They described the case of a 6-month-old girl admitted to the hospital with the disease and later also diagnosed with coronavirus.
What is Kawasaki disease? It’s a rare childhood illness that causes the walls of the blood vessels in the body to become inflamed and can limit blood flow to the heart. It is usually treatable and most children recover without serious problems, but it can be deadly.
What causes it? No one knows what causes Kawasaki disease, but some studies have pointed to a link between viruses or a bacterial infection.
The US case: The child was initially diagnosed with a viral infection, the Stanford team said, and later tested positive for Covid-19. On the second day she had a fever and a blotchy rash. A chest x-ray showed a small white spot in her mid-lung, the team reported in the journal Hospital Pediatrics. The baby’s symptoms appeared to be Kawasaki disease and she was treated. Two weeks after she was discharged, the baby had no respiratory symptoms and is doing well.
Further research: The authors of the study suggest that since the coronavirus is new, and not all symptoms in children are known, scientists will want to further research the potential association of Kawasaki Disease with Covid-19.
Dr. Brad Segal, who worked on the case, said the team was surprised when the test came back positive for Covid-19. “In hindsight, looking at it, it’s not entirely shocking that this association was possible,” he said, adding that Kawasaki disease itself is often preceded by a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness.
Segal doesn’t believe they have seen any other cases of Kawasaki associated with coronavirus at his hospital. He thinks that if this is a complication associated with the coronavirus then it is most likely uncommon.
“I don’t, though, think we are going to see a wave of these cases,” he said. “This isn’t something that families, even if they have coronavirus really need to worry about, based on what we know so far.”
“I think this is going to be a subset, of a subset, of a subset of individuals who develop it,” Segal said. “As far as we can tell, this is something exceedingly uncommon.”
For further explanation of Kawasaki disease, read our coverage here: