The Possible Link Between Kawasaki Disease, COVID-19 and Children
Fortunately, kids with COVID-19 have been relatively mildly affected up to this point. However, as we progress through the pandemic, we are learning more about some rare exceptions.
COVID-19 has now been associated with a syndrome in children known as pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome. This condition is similar in nature to two pediatric conditions known as Kawasaki disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome.
While we still don’t know a lot about the COVID-19 related syndrome, let’s take a look at Kawasaki disease.
Kawasaki disease is a syndrome in children which is characterized by fever over 5 days with some of the following findings:
- Swelling or redness of the hands and feet, followed by peeling of the tips of the toes or fingers
- Red rash all over
- Redness and crusting of the lips or redness of the tongue (like a strawberry)
- Severe pink eye without drainage or mattering
- Swollen lymph nodes of the neck
In addition, children are commonly very irritable with Kawasaki disease. It is significant because the level of inflammation can affect multiple organs (most notably the heart) and lead to very severe illness.
While it’s still not a common condition, even with the newfound association with COVID-19, parents should be aware if their children display persistent fever with any of the associated symptoms.
The cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown. Some evidence suggests there might be an infection involved. The symptoms and complications associated with it are a result of inflammation of small to medium sized arteries throughout the body.
The most commonly known complications of Kawasaki disease involve the heart and can be inflammation of the lining or muscles of the heart, or dilation of the arteries that supply the heart.Toxic Shock Syndrome can present in the same way as Kawasaki Disease but the patient has low blood pressure and is significantly more ill.
If you suspect your child has Kawaski disease or Toxic Shock Syndrome it is important to seek your doctor’s advice quickly, as it is much easier for your physician to connect the dots when symptoms are present. Blood tests can help support the diagnosis and treatment can resolve the symptoms and help to prevent complications.
The good news is that children with Kawasaki's disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome, usually return to normal and don't suffer complications.
For more on this topic:
- Kawasaki disease (cookchildrens.org)
- Pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome
- COVID-19 and Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome (AAP)
- Kawasaki disease
- Toxic Shock Syndrome
- My Child's Fever Isn't Going Away. Should I Be Worried?
- Chest Pain. Is It Your Child's Heart or Something Else?
Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.