SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Amid the novel coronavirus, doctors across the country are reporting cases of a new mysterious illness in children linked to COVID-19 with symptoms similar to Kawasaki Disease.
A Los Angeles hospital reported 3 cases, New York noted at least 73 children were diagnosed and most recently, a Bay Area baby is believed to be the first to contract both COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease, a Stanford case study reveals.
The mother of the South Bay baby spoke to ABC News.
"The rashes were also getting very big and her hands and legs started kind of swelling. Her eyes were getting red," said Mahera who did not share her last name.
In March, in Santa Clara County, Mahera's 6 month old daughter, developed Kawasaki Disease. While being treated at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, Baby Zara was diagnosed with COVID.
"It was a very interesting case, because I mentioned it to my colleagues around the country back when it happened, and I said are any of you seeing this? And they said no, not at all," said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at Stanford. Her team treated Baby Zara.
"The main thing that we worry about with Kawasaki is that there can be longer term complications... And those include inflammation of the arteries, especially those around the heart," said Dr. Maldonado.
Now in New York, there are at least 93 cases of the syndrome. 10 more states are investigating potential cases.
ABC7 News special correspondent Dr. Alok Patel spoke to ABC7 News to tell us what he knows about Kawasaki disease and its connection with COVID-19.
"We don't know a lot, but the report you were talking about earlier from Stanford was the first concurrent case we know in literature of Kawasaki disease and COVID-19," Patel says. "Now what we're seeing is what doctors call pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome and it has kind of features that are similar to Kawasaki disease and to also toxic shock syndrome."
Dr. Patel says Kawasaki disease is rare and it affects the blood vessels, especially around the heart. Symptoms include swollen hands and feet and a high fever.
"It can cause those symptoms we were describing in that case, toxic shock syndrome. It can present signs of shock, you can have low blood pressure, high heart rate, organ damage. Now, this specific condition is somewhere in this category, but doctors aren't positive that it fits either one of them."
Dr. Patel adds that while the symptoms of Kawasaki disease mimic those of COVID-19 more research is needed before we'll know for certain if one causes the other.
"Doctors aren't positive if they really are linked to coronavirus or if it's some type of association that it's having just because of the time, or if its something specific happening to children, such as a post-infection immune response, something different than we're seeing after this surge of cases."
It is so important for doctors to continue communicating and reporting cases to understand how the symptoms and diseases are related.
"We now are at about 100 documented cases across the country, including a few deaths," Patel said.
Dr. Patel reminds parents to "not freak out, but just to be on the lookout for any of these symptoms."
Dr. Maldonado said Kawaski was and is still rare. "Kawasaki tends to cluster, so there will be some years where we'll see many cases and others where we'll see more cases and they can happen in clusters in some states and not others."
Maldonado says some of the New York cases have more severe symptoms than typical of Kawasaki. Nevertheless, she wants to reassure families that, "we know how to treat it and most children do fine."
Which is exactly what happened to Baby Zara.
"Once they gave us the medicine to treat it, everything was turning out very good," said Mahera, who added, "we feel like she's out of danger."
Patel also shared the importance of contact tracing after 5 people in Pasadena, Calif. were tested for COVID-19, apprently stemmed from a party in March.
"This sounds like a run of the mill, very poor decision by somebody who went out in public, we've heard a lot of these, but the reason why this one is so important to highlight is somebody went to a birthday party. I've heard unconfirmed reports, there were about 30 to 40 people at this party. She was coughing, she was joking about having coronavirus, and then five cases, later on, they were all traced back to this one birthday party. And those cases, they were identified and traced back to that birthday party because of contact tracing.
Contact tracing is "painstaking and intensive" but Patel assures it is an "extremely important process."
Dr. Patel reminds that COVID-19 can spread like "wildfire if we're not careful."
"Now, that's only five people, she could have very well spread this to the 30 to 40 people there, they could have gone to spread it to others and have a whole new outbreak happening from one person. That's why it's so important for people, even if you're asymptomatic and you're getting tired of being stuck inside, which we all are, we have to remember that we can absolutely spread this with no symptoms.
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