Rates Of Mysterious Fever In Kids Slashed Due To School Closures During Pandemic

Med Page Toda

According to new research, because of all the school closures due to Covid, there have been much lower rates in the mysterious fever that causes heart disease in children, otherwise known as Kawasaki Disease.

With cases of Kawasaki Disease falling by at least 28% in 2020, they have managed to remain quite low throughout the peak of the pandemic period. It’s believed that the reason for this phenomenon is due to the masking mandates, less air pollution, and reduced circulation of respiratory viruses.

Moreover, these numbers provided new insight on the possible causes of what’s considered to be a commonly acquired heart disease in children.

Statistics show that Kawasaki Disease (KD) affects hundreds of children in the UK every year, with around 8 in every 100,000, while in the United States, the number of kids getting infected is almost 6,000 annually.

Director of the Kawasaki Disease Research Center at the University of California-San Diego Medical School (UCSD), who is also senior author, Dr. Jane Burns, said that the pandemic provided “an incredible natural experiment” that the research team could take advantage of. KD still puzzles pediatricians on its triggers and the way it manages to enter the body until today.

On the other hand, unlike Covid-19, KD is not contagious. But, they also found that the precautions against it were effective in terms of figuring out how it is inhaled into the respiratory tract.

The findings of the study can be found in JAMA Network Open Pediatrics could possibly have a major impact on both research and prevention.

When the pandemic first began, UCSD was leading a multi-site clinical trial that monitored the national KD cases between 2018 and 2020.

UCSD Professor and first author, Jennifer Burney, called and explained that it was “really interesting story.”

“We saw a huge decline in numbers, but unlike other respiratory illnesses during the shelter-in-place period, it didn’t disappear entirely, and the dynamics were not the same for all subsets of patients.”

Other stats show that the rate of KD children are usually higher, and these groups noticed a very large drop in their cases throughout the pandemic.

Meanwhile, another group that looked at disproportionate decrease were children ages one through five. When compared to infants, this was notable, considering that the infants saw no significant change in KD rates through that same time period.

One reason behind this is probably because infant behavior wasn’t substantially impacted by the Covid pandemic. However, the usual activities and exposures of older children were dramatically changed in 2020.

This pattern suggests that ‘social behavior affects exposure to the agents that trigger KD, and are consistent with a respiratory portal of entry.’

Dr. Burns shared, “Kawasaki disease may be caused by a virus, a pollutant, a microbial aerosol, or all of the above. The fact the pandemic affected each age group differently supports the idea that there are multiple triggers of KD, and different children develop the disease after exposure to different ones.”

KD is known to cause inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels, mostly affecting children that are 5 years old and below. It can also weaken the arteries, which are in charge of supplying the heart with blood. Some symptoms include a rash, bloodshot eyes, fever, and redness of the mouth, hands, feet, and throat. If left untreated, a quarter of patients developed coronary artery aneurysms that can eventually lead to a heart attack, congestive heart failure, or in at least three percent of untreated cases,  it can lead to sudden death.