Fifteen children are hospitalized in NYC with rare Kawasaki disease

Fifteen children are hospitalized in NYC with rare but deadly Kawasaki disease doctors fear is linked to coronavirus

  • The 15 children were hospitalized in the city between April 17 and May 1 
  • Kawasaki is a rare inflammatory syndrome that has been linked to coronavirus  
  • If left untreated, disease can inflame heart vessels & have fatal consequences
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Fifteen children have been hospitalized in New York City with the deadly Kawasaki disease now linked to coronavirus. 

Kawasaki is a rare inflammatory syndrome that has left children fighting for their lives in intensive care amid the pandemic. 

The fifteen children were hospitalized in the city between April 17 and May 1, and five of them have required mechanical ventilation. 

Medical workers enter Montefiore Medical Center during the coronavirus pandemic int he Bronx borough of New York. Fifteen children have been hospitalized in New York City with the deadly Kawasaki disease now linked to coronavirus (File image) 

Four of the children tested positive for Covid-19, while six others were found to have Covid-fighting antibodies. 


Children are being admitted in what has been described as a ‘multi-system inflammatory state’

This refers to the over-production of cytokines, known as a cytokine storm – the overreaction of the body’s immune system 

In a storm, the proteins start to attack healthy tissue, which can cause blood vessels to leak and lead to low blood pressure

Doctors say this also happens with Ebola, causing the body to go into shock

It has also been noted in older COVID-19 patients 


The cases share overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease 

Two of the most common symptoms of Kawasaki disease include a rash and a fever

TSS also causes a rash, dizziness and diarrhoea 

No fatalities have yet been reported. 

Links between Covid-19 and Kawasaki disease have sparked concerns both in the US and abroad, and doctors are exploring the possibility that the virus could trigger the inflammatory illness in children. 

The two deadly conditions have similar symptoms in children, such as a high fever, rash and irritability, leading to children being misdiagnosed with COVID-19 instead of the inflammatory syndrome. 

If left untreated, the rare disease can have fatal consequences as it could inflame the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart.

The condition develops in three phases, including a rash and temperature in the first few weeks, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain in the second and feeling tired and a lack of energy in the third.

Children under the age of five are most at risk. 

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy city health commissioner for disease control, said in the memo to health care providers: ‘If the above-described inflammatory syndrome is suspected, pediatricians should immediately refer patients to a specialist in pediatric infectious disease, rheumatology, and/or critical care, as indicated.

‘Early diagnosis and treatment of patients meeting full or partial criteria for Kawasaki disease is critical to preventing end-organ damage and other long-term complications.’ 



Kawasaki disease is a condition that causes inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels and affects mostly children under five years old.

The inflammation can weaken the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with blood. This can lead to aneurysms and heart attacks.

The condition affects eight children out of every 100,000 and statistics show it is fatal in three per cent of cases that go untreated. 


The symptoms of Kawasaki disease usually develop in three phases over a six-week period.

The first signs are a fever and a rash in the first few weeks, followed by the eyes of children becoming red and swollen. 

It can also cause the lips to dry up and crack, a sore throat, swollen lymph glands and the tongue to become red. 

The second phase of Kawasaki disease often causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, joint pain and jaundice. 

In the third phase, symptoms tend to disappear but children ‘may still have a lack of energy and become easily tired during this time’. 


Toxic shock syndrome is a highly dangerous bacterial infection – but it can be misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to other illnesses and because it is so rare.

It occurs when usually harmless staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus bacteria, which live on the skin, invade the bloodstream and release dangerous toxins.

TSS has a mortality rate of between five and 15 per cent. And reoccurs in 30-to-40 per cent of cases.

Using tampons is a particular risk factor for TSS. 


  • a high temperature
  • flu-like symptoms
  • feeling and being sick
  • diarrhoea
  • a widespread sunburn-like rash
  • lips, tongue and the whites of the eyes turning a bright red
  • dizziness or fainting
  • difficulty breathing
  • confusion

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