COVID-19 May Be Linked To Rare Inflammatory Disorder In Young Children

by GoNews Desk 2 weeks ago Views 664
COVID-19 May Be Linked To Rare Inflammatory Disord
Detailed analysis from the epicentre of the Italian COVID-19 outbreak describes an increase in cases of rare Kawasaki-like disease in young children, adding to reports of similar cases from New York, USA and South East England, UK.

The syndrome is rare and experts stress that children remain minimally affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection overall.

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Doctors in the Bergamo province of Italy have described a series of ten cases of young children with symptoms similar to a rare inflammatory disease called Kawasaki Disease appearing since the COVID-19 pandemic arose in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, in a report released by The Lancet on Thursday morning.

Only 19 children had been diagnosed with the condition in that area in the five years up to the middle of February 2020, but there were 10 cases between 18 February and 20 April 2020. The latest reports could represent a 30-fold increase in the number of cases, although researchers caution that it is difficult to draw firm conclusions with such small numbers.

Eight of the 10 children brought to the hospital after 18 February 2020 tested positive for the SARS-coronavirus-2 virus (SARS-CoV-2) in an antibody test. All of the children in the study survived, but those who became ill during the pandemic displayed more serious symptoms than those diagnosed in the previous five years.

Kawasaki Disease is a rare condition that typically affects children under the age of five. It causes blood vessels to become inflamed and swollen. The typical symptoms include fever and rash, red eyes, dry or cracked lips or mouth, redness on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and swollen glands. Typically, around a quarter of children affected experience cardiac complications, but the condition is rarely fatal if treated appropriately in hospital. It is not known what triggers the condition but it is thought to be an abnormal immune overreaction to an infection.

Dr Lucio Verdoni, author of the report from the Hospital Papa Giovanni XXIII in Bergamo, Italy, said: “We noticed an increase in the number of children being referred to our hospital with an inflammatory condition similar to Kawasaki Disease around the time the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak was taking hold in our region. Although this complication remains very rare, our study provides further evidence on how the virus may be affecting children. Parents should follow local medical advice and seek medical attention immediately if their child is unwell. Most children will make a complete recovery if they receive appropriate hospital care.”

The study authors carried out a retrospective review of patient notes from all 29 children admitted to their paediatric unit with symptoms of Kawasaki Disease from 1 January 2015 to 20 April 2020.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the hospital treated around one case of Kawasaki Disease every three months. Between 18 February and 20 April 2020, 10 children were treated for symptoms of the disease. The increase could not be explained by an increase in hospital admissions, as the number of patients admitted during that time period was six fold lower than before the virus was first reported in the area.

Dr Lorenzo D’Antiga, lead author of the study from the Hospital Papa Giovanni XXIII in Bergamo, Italy, said: “We are starting to see case reports of children presenting at hospital with signs of Kawasaki Disease in other areas hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including New York and South East England. Our study provides the first clear evidence of a link between SARS-CoV-2 infection and this inflammatory condition, and we hope it will help doctors around the world as we try to get to grips with this unknown virus.”

Dr Annalisa Gervasoni, another author of the study and a Paediatric Specialist at the Hospital Papa Giovanni XXIII in Bergamo, Italy, said: “In our experience, only a very small proportion of children infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop symptoms of Kawasaki Disease. However, it is important to understand the consequences of the virus in children, particularly as countries around the world grapple with plans to start relaxing social distancing policies.” 

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