Coronavirus linked with inflammatory disease in children | News | DW | 14.05.2020

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Coronavirus linked with inflammatory disease in children

Researchers in Italy have linked SARS-CoV-2 with a "Kawasaki-like" inflammatory disease thought to have killed several children. The researchers warn outbreaks can be expected alongside coronavirus.

Italian researchers have linked SARS-CoV-2 with a condition similar to Kawasaki disease, a condition mainly affecting young children that causes skin rashes and inflamed blood vessels. 

A study published Wednesday in the international medical journal Lancet was carried out by researchers in Italy's northern Bergamo province, which recorded the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in Italy

Researchers said they found a 30-fold increased incidence of Kawasaki-like disease in the patients they examined at a Bergamo hospital between February and April. 

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"The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic was associated with high incidence of a severe form of Kawasaki disease. A similar outbreak of Kawasaki-like disease is expected in countries involved in the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic."

Few, but widespread, cases

The condition mainly affects children under five, and includes symptoms like high fever, rashes, swelling and toxic shock. There have been multiple reports of the condition in Europe and the US, and in some cases, it can be deadly.

On Wednesday, a 14-year-old boy with no underlaying health conditions died at a children's hospital in London from a Kawasaki-like illness. 

Cases of the mysterious condition were first noted in the UK, and there are currently between 75 and 100 children receiving treatment, according to British media. 

In the United States, there have been over 100 cases reported in New York alone of what doctors there are calling "pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome." At least three children died from complications, NBC News New York reported Wednesday. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that 14 other states are now investigating cases, and warned parents to "be aware" of the mysterious illness. 

A 'rare condition'

The Italian researchers stressed that the Kawasaki-like disease in questions "remains a rare condition probably affecting no more than one in 1000 children exposed to SARS-CoV-2." 

First reported in Japan more than 50 years ago by Japanese pediatrician Tomisaku Kawasaki, the exact cause of Kawasaki disease is still unknown.

According to the Lancet, the most accepted hypothesis is that the immune system has an "aberrant response" to a pathogen.

"In the past 20 years, viruses of the coronavirus family have been proposed as possibly implicated in the pathogenesis of Kawasaki disease." 

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