Children infected with COVID-19 with strange syndrome like Kawasaki: how to distinguish the two diseases?

Covid-19 Kawasaki disease

Basically, the symptoms of COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease are quite similar: they have fever, fatigue, muscle aches. Experts are therefore doubtful that these two diseases are highly related.

Kawasaki was named after the Japanese doctor who first identified the disease in 1967, Tomisaku Kawasaki. This disease is one of the causes of heart disease in children in industrialized countries.

The disease affects about 7,000 children in the US each year. Most infected people are children under 5 years of age but can occur in adolescents.

Children with Kawasaki disease will usually have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever higher than 38 degrees lasts for at least 4 or 5 days.
  • Rash around inguinal area, thighs or back, chest.
  • Swelling in hands and feet, peeling skin.
  • Red eyes, similar to pinkeye.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in neck and armpits.
  • Red / swollen, cracked lips, sore throat and a burning tongue (sometimes called strawberry tongue).
  • Some children also have swollen joints, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, fussing and crying.

Kawasaki disease can affect many parts of a child’s body, including the oral mucosa, nose and throat (mucous membranes), skin, eyes and lymph nodes (part of the immune system).

More serious can cause vasculitis, coronary artery disease that supplies blood to the heart leading to aneurysms or narrowing of the arteries. In the worst case is myocarditis, myocarditis or pericarditis.

For COVID-19, the most common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Tired
  • Less common symptoms include: soreness, sore throat, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, rash, redness of fingers or toes.
  • Severe symptoms: difficulty breathing, pain or tightness in the chest, loss of ability to speak or move.

The pathology of Kawasaki disease is still unknown, but some experts suggest it may be an infection from a toxin-producing microorganism or a result of a process involving a similar antigen like COVID-19. Therefore, experts are doubting that these two diseases are very relevant.

The World Health Organization is currently investigating the relationship between COVID-19 and Kawasaki when there are reports of an increase in “infection with a strange inflammatory syndrome like Kawasaki” in children in the United Kingdom, France, and United States. More than hundreds of children have infected in Spain, Italy and US from which three have died from this disease.


About Savi

Savi is a regular writer and social activist. She also writes for BBC, Huffington Posts and others.

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