Canadian pediatricians are on high alert for an acute inflammatory disease, similar to Kawasaki disease, that impacts children diagnosed with SARS–CoV–2, the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
A Public Health Alert has been issued by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program asking Canadian pediatricians to report cases of children whose symptoms look similar to Kawasaki disease. While still rare, the alert says some patients have “deteriorated quickly.”
The New York City Health Department issued a similar alert last week. Today, Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that the province has updated their COVID-19 case definition to include multisystem inflammatory vasculitis.
“While the link between this inflammatory illness and COVID-19 has not been confirmed,” said Elliott. “The province has taken steps to include multisystem inflammatory vasculitis as an atypical presentation in children in its case definition.”
Italian Doctors may have found a link
A link may have been found however. A case study out today from the epicentre of the Italian COVID-19 outbreak has found an increase in cases of rare Kawasaki-like disease in young children.
Medical journal The Lancet found a 30-fold increased incidence of Kawasaki-like disease during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. Italian doctors say of that 30-fold increase in children admitted for the rare inflammatory condition, 80% tested positive for SARS–CoV–2, the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Researchers studied 10 children with symptoms such as a swollen hands and a severe rash, which resembles Kawasaki disease. That was found between February and April. Before that, Italian doctors had previously only seen 19 such cases over the past five years.
“Although this complication remains very rare, our study provides further evidence on how the virus may be affecting children,” case study author Dr. Lucio Verdoni said in a media release.
Dr. Verdoni warned of a similar outbreak of Kawasaki-like disease in countries experiencing the COVID-19 epidemic. The study says that outbreaks of Kawasaki-like disease might occur in countries affected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and might present outside the classic Kawasaki disease phenotype. They also say the condition might be serious and require “prompt” and “more aggressive” management.
At least 14 states in America and five European countries have now identified cases. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said today that officials there reported 82 cases.
Some of the symptoms associated with this illness include persistent fever, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as rash. Parents should contact their health care providers immediately if their children are having these symptoms.
Recent data in Canada indicates that the majority of COVID-19 infections in children are mild and do not require hospitalization. People under the age of 19 make up five per cent of COVID-19 cases and no Canadian children are known to have died.