Nearly 100 cases of this unusual disease have appeared in at least six countries, with doctors in Britain, the United States, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland having now investigated the disease.
The first cases were revealed this week when the NHS issued a pediatrician alert regarding a number of children admitted to intensive care units with a mixture of toxic shock and a disease known as Kawasaki disease, a an inflammatory disorder that affects blood vessels, the heart, and other organs. So far, 19 children have been affected in the UK and none have died.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Wednesday that there are more than a dozen children with inflammation around the heart, and that there is not enough evidence to prove a link. with the coronavirus, he said the cases were taken “very seriously”. “
Veran told France radio that he had received an alert from Paris concerning “around 15 children of all ages”, adding that other cases have been reported in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. He listed the following symptoms: fever, digestive problems, and vascular inflammation.
In the United States, at least three children aged six months to eight years are treated for a similar condition. Mark Gorelik, a specialist treating patients at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said that all of them had fever and inflammation of the heart and intestines. “For the moment, we are trying at the very beginning to understand what this represents,” he told Reuters. Gorelik believes that the cases are not Kawasaki disease but a similar condition that shares a common cause, namely an infectious agent that triggers an immune response.
The three New York cases follow a report from Stanford University in California, in which a 6-month-old child was hospitalized for Kawasaki disease and was subsequently diagnosed with a coronavirus.
Many children treated for the new syndrome have tested positive for the coronavirus, but others have not. This could mean that the syndrome is not related to the coronavirus, that the children cleared the virus before the test, or that the test missed the infection.
Some doctors suspect that the syndrome is an “inflammatory post-infection response” where the immune system overreacts to an infection. This would suggest that in some children, the disease has two phases – the initial infection and a secondary immune response that sets in later.
Cambridge pediatric intensive care consultant Dr. Nazima Pathan said the number of children admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 was relatively small, but some had what looked like toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease. “These children had a severe and prolonged inflammatory response to the Covid-19 infection and they did not have severe lung disease, unlike the majority of cases in adults,” she said.
“Although this situation is changing, it is clear that these symptoms are only reported in a handful of cases,” added Pathan. “The important message is that if parents are concerned about the health of their children, they should see a doctor. “
The new syndrome, which has yet to be named, dominated the discussion among leading doctors during a teleconference on Covid-19 in children organized Tuesday by the World Health Organization.
The first known cases in Britain appeared three to four weeks ago, but doctors are now planning to consult the medical records of children in intensive care earlier this year to check if any previous cases have been missed.