Part 1: COVID-19, Children & Kawasaki Disease
As so many countries rollback re-opening plans across the world because of the reality that COVID-19, a highly infectious virus, is still present and active, I thought it would be worthwhile to explain a few of the scary, albeit rare, possibilities of the sequelae that can occur after becoming infected with this novel Coronavirus. Part 1 will discuss the possible consequences for children. We all care about children and so I hope that this stalls and reverses the complacency that has set in in some of us.
Children in general have been having a better pandemic than adults; not as many infections and a milder disease course. However, the scary occurrence is the emergence of a Kawasaki-like illness in some infected children. Those who have progressed to this Kawasaki-like illness have come close to or actually have died. Maybe you don’t care about contracting COVID-19 yourself but I hope you care about being the one that transmits it to a child. You don’t want to be the one that gives coronavirus to a child that ends up progressing to the Kawasaki-like illness.
So what is Kawasaki disease? Kawasaki disease involves inflammation of blood vessels with a preference for the medium and large blood vessels, particularly those of the heart and it tends to occur in children. This wide spread inflammation leads to multi-organ dysfunction and failure. Simply put, the heart and other organs stop working properly leading to the possibility of death. Kawasaki disease usually occurs after a viral illness, which of course COVID-19 is. Kawasaki disease is diagnosed by a few criteria, namely, fever, rash on torso, red palms and soles, red eyes that are sensitive to light, redness of the mouth/tongue/lips and swollen lymph nodes. What has emerged in some children who have tested positive for COVID-19 is the same wide spread inflammation, heart dysfunction, rashes of the hand, feet mouth and eyes, sometimes culminating in shock and death.
Although this is still rare and there is much more research to be done, in general Kawasaki disease is pretty scary for anyone who has experienced a child go through it. So it’s just important to acknowledge and recognise the significance of this possibility so that we remind ourselves to continue taking the advised precautions. Wearing a mask, staying at home when you can and practicing social distancing is a small ask to save a child from the possibility of a horrible death.
In Part 2 we’ll cover a scary COVID-19 possibility for adults.
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