As the information regarding the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the headlines, it has become clear that there is still much that we do not know regarding this mysterious disease.

During the outset of the virus and the first several months of its spread, it surprised many healthcare workers that children and younger individuals seemed to avoid the brunt of the serious complications related to COVID-19. However, recent reports out of the United Kingdom and the United States of America have pointed to a more rare but pronounced complication in children. 

As more and more children appeared to come down with more serious symptoms and complications while testing positive for COVID-19, pediatricians and child health specialists began to note the seriousness of the situation. Naming the new illness “Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome” or PMIS, the disease showed symptoms in children similar to those of the rare inflammatory illness Kawasaki Disease. As a pediatrician, it is important to note the common symptoms of Kawasaki Disease, and how to differentiate Kawasaki from the newly named PMIS disease in children with COVID-19.

A Primer On Kawasaki Disease

As a primer for healthcare professionals, Kawasaki Disease is a rare inflammatory disease that affects mostly children under the age of 5. The most common symptoms of this inflammatory disease are:

  • a consistently high fever over 101°F
  • rash
  • redness to eyes
  • redness in lips and tongue
  • swelling of the hands, feet, neck.

In rare cases, Kawasaki Disease can develop into a shock-state that causes severe inflammation that requires hospitalization and, in some cases, death.

Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS)

Based on the list of symptoms of Kawasaki Disease, it is not surprising to see how physicians were surprised to see clusters of children begin to exhibit the same symptoms – but with a positive COVID-19 test.

The first reports of children coming down ill with what is now called PMIS occurred on April 27, 2020, in the United Kingdom. Reports then began to come in from New York – the hardest hit area of the United States of America. The symptoms, while similar to Kawasaki Disease, can also appear in a much more severe case with a quicker onset. Many children complained of diarrhea as well as abdominal pains, along with many of the same symptoms of Kawasaki Disease.

How To Work With Pediatric Patients Exhibiting Symptoms

It is vital that pediatricians and family care doctors who treat children with symptoms similar to those of Kawasaki Disease or PMIS immediately consult with their team regarding the protocol for working with probably COVID-19 patients. Encouraging immediate testing and quarantine of family members is recommended. As more information continues to emerge related to PMIS and other COVID-19-related illnesses, it is important to update your practice information and protocol.

At Apollo, our team is constantly monitoring the latest regarding COVID-19 and the threats that the novel coronavirus pandemic brings to all members of the family. Keep visiting our blog online for more information, as well as tips on how you can better help your patients during this difficult time. 

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