Islamabad: A mysterious and severe inflammatory syndrome linked to coronavirus has been reported in a few children in Pakistan. Doctors raised the alarm after 24 cases were reported in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad — including one child who has died.
How is the disease related to coronavirus?
The illness being loosely termed as “Kawasaki-like disease” is considered to be a post-coronavirus infection among children, causing fright amid the pandemic.
Dr Masood Sadiq, dean at Children’s Hospital Lahore, explained that all eight children currently in hospital have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, which means they were infected by the virus, but have since recovered. “This is why doctors believe this is a rare disease linked with coronavirus.” The first child admitted to hospital with the rare disease, unfortunately, did not survive. However, all the other eight children are recovering, Dr Sadiq said. All the children are male and older than five years, he said.
Symptoms of ‘Kawasaki-like disease’
The sickness bears a resemblance to a rare illness called Kawasaki disease, first reported in Japan. Dr Sadiq said the affected children in Lahore reported fever during the first three-five days, with vomiting and diarrhoea, as well as swelling of the hands and feet and bloodshot eyes. While the Kawasaki disease was reported in children younger than five, the emerging ‘Kawasaki-like disease’ is being reported in those between five and 18 years in Pakistan.
No need to panic, doctors tell parents
“There is no need to panic. This disease is not like coronavirus that has no treatment. Full recovery is possible in this case and can be treated if diagnosed in time,” Dr Sadiq assured. The disease that affected children showing multisystem inflammatory syndrome was first detected last month in Europe and then in the United States and Canada and is now being reported in Asian countries as well, including India, experts said.
Health workers across Pakistan alerted
Although the disease is “exceptionally rare” and only a handful of cases have been reported in Pakistan so far, paediatric specialists who focus on children said they have informed the hospitals and clinics across the country to deal with the new emergency, said Dr Sadiq, who is also one of the leading paediatric cardiologists of Pakistan.
The country’s largest children hospital in Lahore recorded two types of patients. One category had symptoms, but were not severely ill, while the other category of patients came in with low blood pressure, cold hands and feet and signs of toxic shock. Most of the children had recovered from coronavirus, but health experts were urged to take precautions as some could get a repeat infection and transmit the virus.
What is Kawasaki disease?
Kawasaki disease, also known as Kawasaki syndrome, is an acute febrile illness of unknown cause that mainly affects children younger than five years of age. It was first reported in Japan by Tomisaku Kawasaki in 1967, and the first cases outside Japan were reported in Hawaii. Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include persistent fever, skin rash, swollen hands or feet, swollen lymph nodes and red, swollen lips. The average age of those affected is two years while 75 per cent are younger than five and boys are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than girls, according to the American Heart Association.