Covid & Kawasaki disease

There are many reports of Kawasaki syndrome like disease affecting children after coronavirus infection. Let’s try to make sense of the connection between covid and Kawasaki disease with the data that’s available.

What is Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease is also known as Kawasaki syndrome. The disease is usually associated with children under the age of 5.

Kawasaki disease is a form of vasculitis. Vasculitis means that it is an inflammation of the blood vessels. It affects mainly the mucous membranes, blood vessels and lymph nodes. It also affects the heart.

Signs & Symptoms of Kawasaki Syndrome

In this disease, the symptoms include:

  • Fever above 102.2 F
  • Fever usually lasts more than 3 to 5 days, not responding to usual medications
  • Enlarged lymph nodes of the neck
  • Eyes are extremely red, but without any thick discharge from the eyes
  • Morbilliform Rash (measles like) anywhere in the body and genital region
  • Lips are dry and red
  • Tongue is extremely red, called strawberry tongue
covid 19 and kawasaki disease, signs and symptoms

Cause of Kawasaki syndrome

The exact cause of Kawasaki disease or syndrome is not known. However, it’s believed to be triggered as a result of inappropriate immune response of our body to infections.

What is Kawasaki Disease Shock Syndrome (KDSS)?

KDSS is a form of Kawasaki disease in which the patient develops shock. Usually the patient suffering with shock due to KDSS presents with 20 percent or more decrease in systolic blood pressure, compared to other normal individuals of same age.

The term also applies to patients who show perfusion disorder of peripheral circulation due to Kawasaki disease complications.

Covid link to Kawasaki disease

Interestingly, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, there were few articles that tried to establish Kawasaki disease & Covid connection. However, there are several researchers who believe that covid and kawasaki disease connection is not possible, as both the diseases have clear and crucial differences.

What is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)?

Many children and teenagers living in regions affected with covid-19 developed kawasaki disease like symptoms. The condition caused by unusual inflammation is officially termed MIS-C (Multisytem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children). Many of these children tested positive for antibodies against coronavirus, suggesting that the syndrome occurred after the covid-19 infection.

Coronavirus vs Kawasaki disease

While some researchers link kawasaki disease with sars-cov-2, others try to establish that they are different in their manifestations.

Differences between isolated kawasaki disease and coronavirus related kawasaki like symptoms (MIS-C) are:

  • Kawasaki disease resolves in 75% cases without any serious damage to the heart
  • Covid related Kawasaki disease symptoms (MIS-C) is being seen in both children and teenagers (and even young adults). While Kawasaki disease is an exclusive disease of children aged 5 or less.

But the research is still preliminary and consensus may change over time as more data becomes available. Right now we can not be sure if coronavirus causes Kawasaki disease too or not.

Guidelines and information through world health organization (WHO) and CDC regarding coronavirus is maturing and changing with every passing day. We will know a lot more about this disease in upcoming days.

Can Covid 19 cause Kawasaki disease?

One opinion is that coronavirus alters the behaviour of kawasaki disease in affected children. This can be due to the genetic reasons too. Suggesting that some children has an immune system that can clear the coronavirus without any significant inflammatory response. However, others might develop Kawasaki disease like symptoms as a result of inflammation.

What to do if your child develops Kawasaki like symptoms after coronavirus?

If your child develops any symptoms like rash or high grade fever and classical strawberry tongue, etc. then don’t wait and immediately seek medical advice. Prompt treatment is needed and crucial for good recovery.

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