Children and Covid-19: a new syndrome that worries

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About 20 children with inflammation of the heart muscle have been hospitalized in France. All were in contact with the Sars-CoV-2 virus in the three or four weeks prior to infection. The symptoms resemble those of Kawasaki disease.

The list of symptoms potentially related to coronavirus is long, as is the list of experts' uncertainties regarding the disease. But concern is increasing a little now that a new syndrome appears to affect children exposed to Covid-19. The alert comes from the United Kingdom, where a dozen cases have been observed, but it also refers to France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the United States. UK Health Minister Matt Hancock recently told LBC radio that there are many investigations underway. "We are not 100% sure because some of the people who got it did not test positive for the coronavirus," he said.

About 20 children have had the same symptoms, mainly in Ile-de-France, since April 15. The cities of Reims, Nancy, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Chambéry and Lyon would also be affected. The Necker Hospital team has confirmed that all of these patients have been in contact with the Sars-CoV-2 virus. All were found to be weakly positive or previously infected. The tests contacted the coronavirus three to four weeks ago.

Specialists have linked it to a rare childhood inflammatory disease: Kawasaki disease. Professor Alexandre Belot, coordinator of the national reference center for rare pediatric inflammatory diseases at the CHU in Lyon and researcher at the International Center for Research on Infectious Diseases, describes its symptoms: "This disease manifests itself as poorly tolerated high fever, great fatigue rash, swollen glands in the neck, conjunctivitis, redness of the lips and mouth, and swollen extremities. "

Symptoms currently seen in French children include high fever, heart failure, low blood pressure, and other inflammatory abnormalities in the blood test. These signs imply hospitalization in intensive care and adequate treatment.

Compared to Kawasaki disease, "it is an incomplete composition, of which we already knew certain cases before the appearance of Covid-19," explains the professor. "Novelty refers to the age of affected children. Kawasaki disease usually manifests in babies 1 to 5 years old, while the current syndrome may appear before and after this age group."

However, the specialist is reassuring. "Covid-19 in children remains less severe than in adults." Epidemiological surveillance has been launched to control the number of cases and remain alert. "An alert sheet was sent to all caregivers. Each case will be reported to Santé Publique France, and we will have a more accurate picture of the situation in the coming days."

The number of cases is still rare, and "children respond very well to the classic treatment offered in the context of Kawasaki disease," says Alexandre Belot. No deaths related to this syndrome have been reported.

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