Covid-19 and inflammatory disease in children


With the new developments in the prospect of Covid-19, the researchers have found some of the infected children who have developed the symptoms of Kawasaki disease, which is an infant inflammatory disease.

The rising reports of the inflammatory disease that has struck children from across the globe are making the physicians believe that there could be some sort of connection with the Covid-19 outbreak.

Several of the anecdotal reports that have been published report that these affected children are reporting the symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease which is a childhood disease that causes inflammation in the blood vessels and can even impact lasting impacts on the child’s body and inflict risks of heart diseases in them.

Owing to the fact that the development of this condition is still pretty new, the researchers have labelled it as “multisystem inflammatory” disease which poses similar symptoms like Kawasaki disease.

For an official diagnosis of the Kawasaki disease, children have to showcase persistent symptoms of the disease including fever that lasts for five days, inflammation in the eyes, skin rashes, swollen lymph nodes and a strawberry red tongue.

Since the exact cause of the Kawasaki disease is still unknown, finding out what exactly the reason behind the disease is can be a struggle at times. But, according to the status of the situation, the researchers have found that the children exhibit the inflammatory symptoms after contracting the infection, making the researchers question whether or not Covid-19 has a part to play in it or not.

While previous studies have linked the incidence of the Kawasaki disease with a number of viruses, and even a type of coronavirus in the past, it is still not clear what exactly causes the condition altogether.

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, chief in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern) stated that it is a matter of question at this point whether or not this sudden condition has any sort of current epidemiological connection to it or not.

The primary reason is the lack of evidence at this point. Till now, only one study conducted so far has proven the child testing positive for both Covid-19 and Kawasaki disease. The data that is available at the moment is subject to observational bias which is why the researchers have to be very careful before they come up with any concrete conclusions surrounding this.

Most difficult diagnoses till date

The first reports of these Kawasaki like disease emerged first in April in parts of Europe, especially in Italy, where a dozen children reported with similar symptoms and were presented to the hospital with complaints of fever, abdominal pain, inflammation in their blood, skin rashes, etc.

While some of the children among them tested positive for Covid-19, the others didn’t. The similar reports were then seen in US, in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned the remaining states and the countries about the incidence of this condition.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on May 11, reported that New York has witnessed 93 such cases, along with 3 deaths associated with it.

Samples of 15 children were taken, out of which, some tested positive for the Covid-19 while some didn’t. But, some of the children carried antibodies against the Sars-CoV-2 which indicates that they have been exposed to the virus at some point. Some of the children tested negative for either cases.

Dr. Frank Esper, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s Hospital reported that these anecdotal findings do suggest a possibility of a connection but it is still too early to reach a conclusion. He is still waiting for a peer reviewed report to finally believe its authenticity.

Esper further highlighted that Kawasaki disease is one of the toughest diagnosis to make in a child. The reason is the lack of blood test or swab test. The entire diagnosis is based off of the clinical evaluation of the symptoms and often, the symptoms tend to overlap with a number of the other inflammatory syndromes, making it even more difficult to diagnose.

Requirement of more data

Around 3000 cases of Kawasaki disease is reported in US every year, as per the reports from the National Organisation of Rare Disorders.

So, 100 new cases within a single region in a short span of time is alarming. Esper suggested that for the researchers to reach a conclusive understanding, it is necessary to compile in all the data from different hospitals following which the physicians would be able to determine the reason behind the inflammatory disease.

“In these patients, do they have antibody against the new coronavirus? For me, that’s the first question to answer,” Kahn further reported.

If the researchers find that Covid-19 and Kawasaki disease are correlated, it could further aid in getting a clearer answer to why the disease even happens in the first place, which has been a mystery till now.

The researchers believe that there could be a number of underlying factors that the researchers just don’t have enough evidence on. It could hint the correlation between Sars-CoV-2 and its mechanism in the human cells or even the characteristic pathways that the virus could trigger in the meantime.

The physicians are still looking for an answer for Kawasaki disease and stacking on the new development of the Covid-19 being a possible cause could further help researchers find therapeutic approaches for the condition.

The children diagnosed with Kawasaki are administered with high doses of aspirin to prevent the risks of blood clot and even help reduce the inflammation that majority of the individuals complain of. The children are also administered with immunosuppressants to help them recover faster.

Whether or not these two infections are correlated is still a question at this point. Further findings and research is going to unravel the possibilities even better.