Children across the country find themselves in intensive care units suffering from rare and fatal diseases that researchers now suspect are linked to their exposure to the coronavirus.
“What we need is information,” said Dr. Adiana Tremoulet, deputy director of the Kawasaki Research Center at Rady Children’s Hospital. “What we don’t need is fear right now. “
Tremoulet urges families to remain as calm as possible as the evidence grows linking COVID-19 to two life-threatening illnesses in children.
A Californian baby is now the first case associating COVID-19 with Kawasaki disease, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The disease, and a similar disease called Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS), are hyper-inflammatory diseases that can affect children of any age and are particularly dangerous because if left untreated, they can trigger heart failure.
Now the CDC has sent an urgent alert to doctors across the country on the link between the alarming diseases and the virus behind this pandemic.
The move underscores how few researchers are still aware of the coronavirus – just a few months ago, health experts said it doesn’t affect children.
NBC News has found at least 17 states with suspected COVID-19-related PIMS cases, but there may be more.
“It’s probably in other states,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a recent press conference. “And has not yet been diagnosed in other states because these children do not have the usual symptoms of COVID-19. “
Tremoulet had observed an interesting PIMS trend among nations infected for the first time with the coronavirus. The researcher says the disease follows the same curve as COVID-19 about a month after the peak.
“There may be a link with the virus both with general Kawasaki disease and with PIMS,” says Tremoulet.
Tremoulet said that many children in the hospital with PIMS were exposed to family members infected with COVID-19.
“We are certainly not trying to sound the alarm,” said Tremoulet. “We are just trying to educate so our families know when they should see a doctor. “
Symptoms of Kawasaki include fever, rash, red eyes, swollen hands and feet, and red lips and tongue. PIMS is similar, but can also include severe abdominal pain and low blood pressure.
Report by Melissa Russo of NBC New York.
Although there are no cases related to COVID-19 here in San Diego, county leaders are watching it closely.
“We are following this very closely with our local Kawasaki disease experts and our local pediatric intensive care physicians,” said county director of epidemiology Dr. Eric McDonald.
Not all children are affected in the same way. Tremoulet says Kawasaki virus-related cases have disproportionately affected African-American and Afro-Caribbean children, although researchers are still trying to figure out why. This may be due to the demography of the areas most affected by COVID-19, and not necessarily to a genetic predisposition to the disease.