SEATTLE — In the coronavirus pandemic, children, for the most part, have escaped the worst. That could be changing.
A teenager at Seattle Children’s Hospital is among a small group of young people in the United States hospitalized after the virus apparently triggered a serious inflammatory syndrome known as Kawasaki Disease.
“This was a healthy teenager,” said Dr. Michael Portman, a cardiologist at Seattle Children’s.
Portman said the patient is stable after shock-like symptoms sent him to the intensive care unit.
The patient had a high fever.
“We’ve had a definite drop in the number of patients appearing for admission at Seattle Children’s for Kawasaki Disease, and we believe that may be because parents are afraid to bring their children to the emergency room and risk exposure (to COVID-19),” Portman said.
Kawasaki’s is a mysterious illness that, if untreated, can lead to blood clots and heart attacks, said Portman who leads the Kawasaki Disease Clinic at Seattle Children’s.
He says it seems to be triggered by viruses, and affects patients who are often healthy but genetically susceptible.
Symptoms can include a high fever, usually for four or five days, a rash, swelling of lymph nodes, swelling and cracking of lips, redness in the eyes, and swelling and redness in the hands and face.
“Left untreated, 25% of these children can get very severe abnormalities of the heart,” Portman said. “The blood vessels of the heart will become inflamed, they swell. They can develop clots and block blood flow to the heart, resulting in a heart attack or even worse."
Portman said what seems to be happening in Europe and the U.S. is that COVID-19 is triggering a severe form of the syndrome known as Kawasaki Shock. It can take time to show up.
The teenager at Seattle Children's had a negative COVID-19 swab test, but the antibody test came back positive.
“I don’t want to be (an) alarmist but I think that parents need to be aware of what Kawasaki Disease is, and if their children have those symptoms they shouldn’t ignore it and just assume that everything is just mild COVID,” Portman said.
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