Juvenile COVID-19 survivors suffer from Kawasaki disease

Maria Parshikova, a two-year-old girl, who was initially diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, died of Covid-19 at a Moscow hospital. The autopsy subsequently revealed that the child died because of the disease caused by the coronavirus, the girl's mother said.

The girl was hospitalized on May 18, and died on May 23 in intensive care. Antibodies that are produced in the acute phase of the coronavirus disease were found in the child's blood. During the pandemic, the girl's family moved to the country cottage and lived there in isolation. In April, the whole family became sick with a disease, the nature of which could not be established.

"My daughter had a temperature of about 40 degrees. Paramedics said that it could be an enterovirus infection, but advised calling them again in three days should the fever maintain," the girl's mother said.

Two days later, the child was feeling great, she started playing and running about like a normal girl. However, her parents fell ill with chills and a low body temperature. Three weeks after the recovery the child's temperature again sored to 39 degrees.

The child developed a severely swollen lymph node on the neck, which prompted doctors to diagnose mononucleosis. Some time later, the girl had rash on her legs. Doctors assumed that it could be Kawasaki syndrome or an allergic reaction to the antibiotic drug that the girl had administered. Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include inflammation of blood vessels, rash, swelling of the tonsils and drying of the lips. In most cases, the disease affects children under the age of five.

The girl was rushed to Moscow's Morozov Hospital, where she subsequently died within a week. Doctors were reluctant to confirm Kawasaki syndrome. They later explained that the child had a Kawasaki-like syndrome caused by the coronavirus infection, which led to extensive damage to the child's internal organs.

"The other day they showed a report on TV saying that there was not even a single Covid-positive child in Moscow. I was terrified. Instead of warning parents, they misinform millions of people. This is a crime," the girl's mother said, adding that there were other Covid-positive children at the Morozov Hospital.

According to Dmitry Ovsyannikov, the head of the pediatric department at the RUDN Medical Institute, said that it goes about the coronavirus-related multisystem inflammatory syndrome that affects children. To date, 600 cases of the disease have been reported in patients in the UK, France, the USA and Italy.

The doctor recommends parents should pay attention to classic signs of Kawasaki syndrome. They include:

  • fever
  • changes in mucous membranes (red lips, raspberry-colored tongue)
  • swelling of the palms and feet
  • conjunctivitis
  • swollen lymph nodes, especially cervical ones
  •  rash.

Other symptoms include:

  • decreased blood pressure and shock
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • symptoms of meningitis.

The disease affects children aged from nine to ten years old, while the average age of patients with Kawasaki syndrome is two years.

According to Ovsyannikov, the syndrome develops one to six weeks after the coronavirus infection. Hospitalization is required urgently, as soon as first signs of such a disease manifest themselves. Late hospitalization may result in a lethal outcome. In addition, an ultrasound examination of the heart should be conducted to exclude coronary artery aneurysms, as with Kawasaki syndrome.

During the pandemic, a total of 13 children with the multisystem inflammatory syndrome have been hospitalized in Moscow. Most of those patients have already recovered.