Kawasaki-like illness linked to coronavirus now appearing in young adults
22nd May 2020

The puzzling Kawasaki-like inflammatory illness linked to the coronavirus is now affecting young adults — not just children, according to a report.

Doctors across the country are now reporting patients in their early and mid-20s, the Washington Post reports.

The new illness, recently dubbed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, has impacted a 25-year-old at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center, a 20-year-old in San Diego and several patients in their 20s at NYU Langone in the Big Apple, according to the outlet.

Jennifer Lighter, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at NYU Langone, said MIS-C in younger kids causes symptoms very close to the traditional Kawasaki disease, which leaves blood vessels inflamed. But the teens and young adults who’ve contracted the illness are seeing an “overwhelming” and more serious response that attacks the heart and multiple organs.

“The older ones have had a more severe course,” Lighter told the Post.

There are at least 157 suspected cases of MIS-C being probed in New York but the symptoms doctors are seeing now present very differently to that of the few kids who presented with COVID-19 early on in the crisis, the outlet said.

Typically, those children had preexisting conditions, active coronavirus infections, and trouble breathing but the children and young adults who are now being examined for MIS-C were healthy before suddenly developing a fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and rashes.

Many of the patients have antibodies for the coronavirus, meaning they’d previously been infected with the bug. The prevalence of antibodies in MIS-C cases suggests the conditions could be a delayed immune response, the outlet said.

Jane Burns, a physician who runs the Kawasaki Disease Research Center at the University of California at San Diego, is concerned the illness could be under-diagnosed in adults, primarily because child doctors are the ones most familiar with it.

Further, it’s difficult to get clear images of adult hearts because of thicker chest walls, making ultrasounds harder to read.

“[What] internists need to be aware of is that maybe this is coming their way,” Burns told the Post, adding she is working with public health officials to expand warnings about the condition to include young adults.

More than 20 states have reported MIS-C cases with the nationwide total estimated to be several hundred, the outlet reported.

While for now the disease appears to be rare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is alarmed about how quickly MIS-C patients are declining. They’re urging parents to quickly seek medical care if they think their child is affected, the outlet said.

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