Public health officials in the United Kingdom have issued a warning to doctors that a rare syndrome has been affecting children in the country. Experts said the health problem could be linked to COVID-19 but may also be caused by another virus.
The National Health Service England said that the syndrome causes abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and cardiac inflammation in children of all ages. It appears with “overlapping features” of toxic shock and Kawasaki disease, Miami Herald reported Monday.
The Paediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS) took to Twitter on Sunday to spread the “urgent alert.” Officials said all children affected by the unknown syndrome in the past three weeks required intensive care.
Cases have been reported in London and other regions of the U.K. The syndrome appeared in both children with COVID-19 and young patients who tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
“There is a growing concern that a SARS-CoV-2 related inflammatory syndrome emerging in children in the U.K. or that there may be another as yet unidentified infectious pathogen associated with these cases,” NHS said in the notice.
Toxic shock causes a high fever, low blood pressure, diarrhea, confusion, muscle aches, headache and seizures, according to the Mayo Clinic. Patients may also show “a rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on your palms and soles.”
A high fever is also a common symptom of Kawasaki disease. People with the condition commonly exhibit dry, cracked lips, red eyes, swollen lymph nodes and red, swollen skin on the feet and hands.
NHS said doctors should check children for stomach pain, diarrhea “and rapid progress to a shock-like picture,” British medical magazine GP reported. The number of patients affected by the unknown syndrome remains small in the U.K. but experts expect cases to grow because of potential link to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thankfully Kawasaki-like diseases are very rare, as currently are serious complications in children related to Covid-19,” Simon Kenny, NHS national clinical director for children and young people, told CNN. “But it is important that clinicians are made aware of any potential emerging links so that they are able to give children and young people the right care fast.”