As Australia continues to flatten the curve, we’ve been thrown a bit of a curveball when it comes to coronavirus and children. Overseas doctors have suggested that COVID-19 could be connected to a potentially deadly heart condition known as Kawasaki disease.
What have they discovered?
According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), more than a dozen children had been left in intensive care after developing toxic shock syndrome and in many, but not all of the cases, a disease of the blood vessels known as Kawasaki disease.
Now Australian doctors plan to change their approach to children who have developed Coronavirus to ensure they are not at risk for also developing Kawasaki disease.
What is Kawasaki disease?
Kawasaki disease is a heart disease that normally affects children under five years of age. It’s been around for about 50 years, but there’s still not a whole lot of information about it. Doctors still aren’t sure what causes it but what we do know is:
- It’s a condition that impacts the blood vessels. It causes them to become inflamed which can lead to heart disease.
- It’s actually one of the leading causes of heart disease in kids.
- Symptoms include a high fever with a skin rash that doesn’t change when it’s pressed and breathing difficulties.
- It’s treatable. Children are given intravenous immunoglobulin from donated blood, which reduces their chance of developing heart issues from 1-in-4, to 1-in-20.
- Children who do experience changes to their heart often see the issue resolve as they get older.
What do parents need to do?
Although there is a link between COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease in UK children, there hasn’t been any confirmed links or cases in Australia.
So, please don’t stress!
According to Prof David Burgner, a paediatric and infectious diseases doctor with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne:
It’s increasingly recognised that Covid-19 hasn’t read the textbook about what it should be doing as a respiratory virus.
What’s different about these kids in the UK is they are also getting shock and that is a rare manifestation of Kawasaki. It looks like some of them have an unusual form of Kawasaki and that is why it is probably a manifestation of Covid-19.”
A number of Australian doctors have confirmed that, although there may be a link, it’s nothing to worry about at this stage. Just something to be aware of.
Parents should continue to monitor their children for illness, especially for signs of fever and rash. If they do develop these symptoms, then head to the ER.