Coronavirus Chicago: Kids sick with mysterious illness possibly linked to COVID-19; symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, TSS

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Thursday, May 7, 2020
Chicago kids hospitalized with mysterious illness possibly linked to COVID-19
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There are cases in Chicago of a mysterious illness impacting children that may be connected to COVID-19.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are cases in Chicago of a mysterious illness impacting children that may be connected to COVID-19. The symptoms are very similar to toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, a rare sickness that involves inflammation of blood vessels.

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While they may carry the virus, most children have not shown any symptoms of the novel coronavirus. However, there are kids in hospitals, including here in the Chicago area, being treated for a mysterious inflammatory disease that may be linked to COVID-19.

"These kids are testing negative with the nasal swab, but they are testing positive for antibodies in the bloodstream, which shows they had past infection, but their parents may not have known that," said Dr. Frank Belmonte, Chief Medical Officer at Advocate Children's Hospital.

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Advocate Children's Hospital is treating one patient with the syndrome. Dr. Belmonte said in known cases elsewhere, symptoms show up weeks after the coronavirus peaked.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes and swollen lymph nodes.

"These children are presenting extremely ill," said Dr. Anne Rowley, an infectious disease specialist at Lurie Children's Hospital. "A parent is not going to miss this. This is a very ill child."

Dr. Rowley said the symptoms of this mysterious inflammatory syndrome are similar to Kawasaki disease.

"At our hospital, Lurie Children's, we have one newly-diagnosed child with Kawasaki each week," she said.

But, Dr. Rowley said children with this new syndrome are not experiencing inflammation of the coronary arteries, something that is a specific symptom of Kawasaki disease. That's why Rowley also believes the syndrome may be COVID-related.

"While kids are getting very sick, the inflammatory syndrome has been treatable," Dr. Rowley said.