Parents are being warned to look out for symptoms of a new syndrome which is leaving some children seriously ill.
The condition, similar to Kawasaki Disease, has left some children seriously ill in hospital and has been linked to fatalities.
Experts believe it may be linked to coronavirus – with symptoms appearing in children who have the disease without knowing it.
Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said there have been “75 to 100” cases across the country.
A 14-year-old boy with no underlying health conditions treated at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital is thought to be the first British child to die from the syndrome.
Prof Viner told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it appears to occur after a child has been infected with Covid-19, and is the “body’s immune system overreact(ing) to coronavirus”.
He said that while parents should be aware of the illness, they do not need to be concerned.
“We can count the number of children that have died with coronavirus on the fingers of two hands, compared to over 30,000 in adults. And that tells us most of what we need to know,” he said.
“This is a new syndrome. It appears to be happening mostly after coronavirus infection, we believe it’s where the body’s immune system overreacts to coronavirus.”
According to Prof Viner, the main symptoms of the condition are a high and persistent fever and a rash, while some children also experience abdominal pain and gastrointestinal problems.
He said that although some patients have required intensive care, others have responded to treatment and are getting better and starting to go home.
The illness is said to be similar to Kawasaki disease, which mainly affects children under the age of five, with symptoms including a high temperature, rashes, swelling and a toxic shock style response.
Prof Viner stressed that cases appear to be “falling away” as the number of Covid-19 infections in adults falls.
“The cases appear to be now disappearing. As we pass the peak, coronavirus in children, like in adults, is falling away,” he told the BBC.
“This happens after coronavirus, so it appears to have peaked perhaps two to four weeks after the coronavirus peak.
The illness was first reported in the UK, and Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, has revealed that the illness has affected children in at least 15 states across the US, as well as in five European countries.
He cited a change in skin colour and a racing heart as just two of a ‘wide array of symptoms’, adding: “Parents have to be aware of this.
« As a parent I can tell you, this is every parent’s worst nightmare. It’s truly disturbing.”
Kawasaki disease is a condition that mainly affects children under the age of 5, and is also known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome.
According to the NHS, the disease has seven key symptoms that parents should be aware of:
If you notice these symptoms in your child, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible.
The NHS advises: “It’s best if treatment begins as soon as possible. The sooner treatment starts, the quicker the recovery time and there’s less risk of complications developing.
“Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), a solution of antibodies, and aspirin are the 2 main medicines used to treat Kawasaki disease.”
Doctors have now reported cases of the mysterious illness in the UK, the US, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
The first reports were in the UK, where there are believed to be at least 12 cases.
Meanwhile, France’s health minister, Olivier Veran, revealed earlier this month that the illness has been seen in ‘about 15 children of all ages.’
Speaking to Franceinfo, Mr Veran also confirmed that cases have been reported in Spain, Italy and Switzerland, listing fever, digestive issues and vascular inflammation as key symptoms.
Coronavirus, Inflammation, Pediatrics, Kawasaki disease
World news – GB – Key symptoms that could be new children’s Covid-19 syndrome
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