The World Health Organization said today it was studying a possible link between Covid-19 disease and Kavasaki disease, an inflammatory syndrome that affects children, which has caused the first death in France.
“Initial reports suggest that the syndrome may be related to Covid-19. We call on all clinical physicians around the world to work with their national authorities and WHO to be vigilant and better understand this syndrome in children, “said WHO Director-General Andreas Gembregeus in an online press conference in Geneva.
“It is crucial to characterize this clinical syndrome accurately and urgently, in order to understand its causal relationship and to describe treatment protocols,” he added.
The WHO and its global network of clinical physicians have developed a preliminary definition and made available to physicians a reference form for each suspected case of Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SRIS).
Cases recorded worldwide are rare and the role of the new coronary artery in the development of the infection remains unknown, said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergency program.
“We don’t know if it’s the virus that attacks the cells or if it’s the over-immune response” that causes the inflammation, as is the case with Ebola fever, Ryan explained.
The disease has plagued the health authorities of several countries for the past two weeks, although children are rarely affected by the severe forms of Covid-19.
Dozens of cases and one death
Following a first alarm in Britain in late April, similar incidents were reported in New York, Italy and Spain. Deaths are extremely rare, with a five-year-old in New York and a 14-year-old in London.
A first fatal case was reported in France today.
A nine-year-old boy died in Marseille, southern France, on May 8 from a brain injury following a heart attack, said Professor Fabrice Michel, head of the pediatric intensive care unit at La Timon Hospital.
Serological tests showed that this child had “come in contact” with the coronary artery, but had not developed the symptoms of Covid-19.
Symptoms of the inflammatory syndrome include high fever, abdominal pain and digestive disorders, rash, conjunctivitis, and the tongue that reddens, swells and acquires a raspberry-like appearance. The symptoms are similar to Kavasaki disease, which affects children and causes inflammation of the blood vessels.