Rashes, lethargy, and the terror of the unknown: What it’s like to survive Kawasaki disease, the rare childhood illness that scientists are scrambling to understand in the coronavirus crisis

eric kinnell

Eric Kinnell, now aged 42, nearly died from a bout of exceptionally rare Kawasaki disease as a five-year-old boy.
The disease is receiving renewed attention because it has very similar characteristics to a new syndrome surging in children during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kinnell had a temperature of 105 F, a rash all over his body, a swelling in his neck the size of a golf ball, and was so lethargic he couldn’t walk when he reached hospital.
He told Business Insider that the worst part for his parents was the “terror” of the unknown, leading them to clutch at a now-discredited theory that it was caused by carpet shampoo, blaming themselves. 
Scientists are still working to establish the connection between the new Kawasaki-like disease and the coronavirus.

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Eric Kinnell was five years old when his family’s Catholic priest came to perform his last rites. 

The little boy had first come to hospital after suffering for about a week with what seemed like heavy flu. He was so lethargic he couldn’t walk, and had a temperature of 105 degrees.

His other symptoms were more unusual. A rash covered most of his body, the skin on his hands was peeling, and a lymph gland in his neck swelled to the size of a golf ball. He was choked with phlegm. Inside his small frame, the arteries serving his heart were inflamed and bulging.

He was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, a rare and serious children’s condition that inflames the larger blood vessels, and which is seeing renewed attention this year since doctors around the world — mostly in cities hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic — started seeing similar symptoms in children.

Thankfully, the priest wasn’t needed. Now aged 42, Kinnell is a marketing director for a company in Bedford, Ohio, not far from where he grew up.

But Kinnell understands the panic reported among parents whose children are being diagnosed with a new, similar, and equally mysterious syndrome — not least because doctors are starting to connect it to the novel coronavirus, which did not seem to be a real concern for most children.  

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What is Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children in developed countries, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), although it is much more prevalent in East Asia.

Kinnell was one of the 9 to 20 Kawasaki disease cases to occur per 100,000 children in the US every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If diagnosed promptly, 99% of children in the US survive it, according to the Kawasaki Disease Foundation. But if not caught early, its serious symptoms can last weeks. It is so rare, that many doctors — including Kinnell’s — don’t diagnose it immediately. And in a quarter of children, this can lead to damage to the heart.

Kinnell experienced the classic symptoms of Kawasaki disease, which can also include bloodshot eyes and irritation and swelling of the mouth, lips, and throat, according to the AHA.

Kawasaki disease …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Science

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