Possible Link between Paediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome & COVID-19

mother, father and two children

Health experts are investigating a possible link between COVID-19 and children suffering from multi-system inflammatory disease. 

Two months ago, over 20 children presented at a hospital in Bergamo, Italy with high fever and severe vascular inflammation, closely resembling Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.

Today, there are dozens more cases in Spain, in U.K. where a 14-year-old boy died – and the United States and Canada.   Medical experts are greatly concerned as children continue to present with similar symptoms including red, swollen and blistered toes.

64 children and teenagers in New York City have been diagnosed with inflammatory syndrome.  There are now numerous other cases in United States including one death.

mother taking her child's temperature

Not all children tested positive for COVID-19 and some children who tested negative for COVID-19 had antibodies, suggesting they were exposed to the virus.

In 2004, Ian Jones, professor of virology at the University of Reading in UK stated that Kawasaki disease was “anecdotally linked…but not proven”, to another coronavirus known as NL63, citing that the virus uses the same receptor as the new coronavirus that infects humans.

Dr. Ellie Haddad, head of paediatric immunology at the Centre Hospitalier Univerisitaire Sainte-Justine in Montréal, where a cluster of 12 children presented with inflammatory disease, stated that medical reports in Europe reveal children who were diagnosed with this disease showed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19 and mother wearing a mask

Jane Newburger, cardiologist and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and director of the Kawasaki Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, theorized that inflammatory syndrome arises from the immune system’s response to the COVID-19 virus, wherein the antibodies are provoking an immune response.

Kawasaki Disease

While the cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown, a number of medical theories link the disease to bacteria, viruses and environmental factors.

According to Kawasaki Disease Canada, 30 out of 100,000 children under five-years-of-age will contract the disease and an estimated 75 to 80% of all cases involve children under the age of five.

young girl wearing a mask

The Mayo Clinic states that Kawasaki disease primarily affects children under the age of 9 and causes swelling in the walls of medium-sized arteries throughout the body and inflammation of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.

Primary symptoms include:

  • A fever that is often higher than 102.2 F (39 C) and lasts more than three days
  • Red eyes
  • A rash on the main part of the body, legs and/or the genital area
  • Red, dry, cracked lips and red, swollen tongue
  • Swollen, red skin on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Irritability

During the second phase of Kawasaki disease, children will experience peeling of the skin on their hands and feet, joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Treating Kawasaki disease within 10 days of diagnosis may greatly reduce the chances of complications, such as heart disease, and weakening and bulging of the arteries.

mother, father and two children

Since last November medical experts have learned a lot about COVID-19, but tremendous research is required to understand not only the origin and cause but the long and short term repercussions and complications as well.

Taking into consideration just how many children are falling ill with paediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, perhaps the opening of elementary schools scheduled this month is premature and not in the best interest of their health and well-being.  I trust medical experts in Canada will make the right decision.

If your child develops a fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting, seek help from your family physician or medical professional immediately.

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