Children are included in what has been described as an “inflammatory system with multiple systems.”
This refers to the overproduction of cytokines, known as a cytokine storm – the overreaction of the body’s immune system.
During a storm, the proteins begin to attack healthy tissue, which can cause blood vessels to leak and low blood pressure
Doctors say this also happens with Ebola, which puts the body in shock.
It has also been noted in elderly COVID-19 patients.
WHAT SYMPTOMS DOES IT CAUSE?
The majority of children admitted to the hospital with the condition have had a high fever, severe abdominal pain, and diarrhea for several days.
Some develop a rash and red eyes or red lips, while a very small group goes into shock, affecting the heart and getting cold hands and feet and breathing quickly.
The symptoms are similar to those caused by Kawasaki disease, a rare but treatable condition that affects around eight in every 100,000 children in the UK.
WHEN WERE OFFICIALS SEEN FOR THE FIRST TIME?
The UK National Health Service (NHS) sent a warning to doctors on April 27 to warn them of signs of the syndrome.
At the time, they said there had been small numbers of cases in London for about three weeks. Since then, they have spread further across the country and between 75 and 100 children are known to be infected.
Cases have been reported in the US in New York and in clusters in other states such as New Jersey and California.
IS IT CAUSED BY SARS-COV-2, THE CORONAVIRUS?
Doctors are almost certain that the disease is caused by the coronavirus, but they have not yet been able to prove it.
Cases began to emerge when the British coronavirus outbreak peaked and similar circumstances have been reported in China and Italy during the pandemic.
However, not all children with Kawasaki-like syndrome are positive for the virus. Swab tests have shown that some children were not infected with COVID-19 at the time of their illness.
But all patients tested positive for antibodies, doctors said, meaning they’ve had the coronavirus in the past.
They said this suggests it is a “post-infectious phenomenon” caused by a delayed immune system overreaction, which can happen weeks or even up to a month after the child is infected with COVID-19.
IS IT TREATABLE?
Yes. All but one of the children diagnosed with the syndrome survived. The only child known to have died of it, a 14-year-old boy, died of a stroke caused by the life-supporting machine on which he sat.
Doctors are currently treating the condition by taking medications to calm the immune system and dampen the overreaction.
Dr. Liz Whittaker, a pediatrician at Imperial College Healthcare in London, said the sickest children are usually very sick for four to five days and begin to recover a few days after starting treatment.