Scientists have confirmed a link between COVID-19 and a mysterious inflammatory condition affecting children that has been recorded in the UK, US and Europe.
While the new coronavirus impacts children less severely than adults, scientists have been baffled at the Kawasaki-like illness that seems to affect some.
Dubbed paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (or PIMS-TS), the illness has been likened to the rare Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome due to their similar inflammatory symptoms.
They range from rashes to high-fevers and swollen hands and feet and the condition is suspected to have killed at least three children in the US and one in the UK
Although children with these symptoms are suspected of having coronavirus, doctors were further confounded when standard polymerise chain reaction (PCR) testing returned negative. However scientists have finally found evidence linking COVID-19 to Kawasaki-like response.
In a study of eight children, researchers at a Birmingham hospital created a custom-built antibody test, which proved they had been infected with COVID-19, despite previously testing negative.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the test showed that after being infected with coronavirus, the children produced antibodies in an attempt to fight the virus.
Scientists are still unsure why certain patients develop the syndrome after weeks of infection but they believe it may be a severe immune system over-reaction to the initial disease.
According to AAP, symptoms of PIMS-TS include a fever lasting five days or more, a rash, large swollen glands in the neck, red or swollen hands and feet, peeling skin on the hands and feet, conjunctivitis or bloodshot eyes or a red, lumpy ‘strawberry’ tongue.
Currently, no cases of the coronavirus-related illness have been recorded in Australia although we do record 200 to 300 cases of Kawasaki disease per year.
The condition can be treated through large doses of intravenous immunogoblin, or antibodies, taken from donated blood but in extreme cases it can cause a dangerous inflammation of the coronary arteries. This can limit blood flow to the heart and may lead to an aneurysm, permanent damage and in some cases, death.
Earlier this week global concern even prompted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to order an urgent investigation into a coronavirus-linked illness.
Despite this, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says it is unlikely Australia will see a spike in disease numbers.
“It may appear in other countries with large volumes of infected people but because it’s so rare it’s unlikely to appear in Australia,” Professor Murphy told a Senate inquiry into coronavirus.
“We’ve got alerts on it and we’re clearly watching it.”