Coronavirus

Coronavirus: experts link Covid-19 with rare inflammatory disease in children

Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome has been detected in the US, the UK and Europe and is linked to coronavirus antibodies, studies have found.

Coronavirus: experts link Covid-19 with rare inflammatory disease in children
YURI KOCHETKOV EFE

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is investigating links between the novel coronavirus and a rare inflammatory disease that affects children. The syndrome, which has been likened to Kawasaki disease, has been detected in the US, Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands, with over 80 cases in New York and around 100 in the UK.

Kawasaki disease was first identified in 1967 in Japan and is considered to be extremely rare, affecting between eight and 67 people under the age of five per 100,000 except in Japan, where incidences are higher. Although Kawasaki disease has mostly been detected in younger children, the new syndrome has been recorded in various age groups. In Italy, where 10 children were admitted to hospital in Bergamo between February and April, the average age was seven.

Symptoms of the pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which the CDC is due to issue an alert on this week, include a rash, swollen neck glands and cracked lips.

Covid-19 behind new syndrome in children, say experts

Researchers have linked the new syndrome with Covid-19. A study of the Italian children affected found that eight of the patients had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, leading experts to deduce that the syndrome could be a delayed reaction driven by a child’s immune system response to the infection.

Dr. Jeffrey Burns, a critical care specialist at Boston Children's Hospital, told CNN: "This multisystem inflammatory syndrome is not directly caused by the virus. The leading hypothesis is that it is due to the immune response of the patient."

In the US, up to 17 states are looking into possible cases of the syndrome and the CDC is preparing an alert for hospitals to be on the lookout for the disease. The World Health Organization is also investigating the syndrome to allow doctors to identify and treat it.

"Understanding the child's immune response could be a key to vaccine development and could also be a key to therapy for adults to understand why children are able to fight [Covid-19] off so well," Dr. Burns added.