Heartbreaking photos have been released of a six-month old infant in the Bay Area, who is believed to be the first recorded case of a US child with coronavirus and a rare inflammatory condition.
Baby Zara was getting ready to be discharged from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, where she’d been getting treated for Kawasaki disease, which inflames blood vessels and causes heart failure.
Images snapped by doctors show the youngster with a rash covering her arms and legs, redness in the whites of her eyes, and swollen hands and feet – all classic signs.
Then, on March 16, she tested positive for COVID-19, shortly before California’s shelter-in-place order went into effect.
At the time, there was no reason to believe the two diseases were connected.
But with nearly 100 children in New York reported to be suffering from a mysterious inflammatory syndrome in children linked to coronavirus exposure, may reveal about the effect the virus can have in children.
Baby Zara, 6 months (left and right), from California, was diagnosed in early March with Kawasaki disease, a condition that causes blood vessel inflammation and can lead to heart failure. On her last day in the hospital, a test for coronavirus came back positive
Doctors at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto say Zara is the first recorded case of a child with both COVID-19 and Kawasaki. Pictured: Zara with redness in the white of the eyes, a classic Kawasaki symptom
According to a case report, Zara was brought into pediatric urgent care with symptoms including fever, fussiness, and a refusal to eat.
She was diagnosed with a viral infection, given medication for the fever, and her mother was told to keep an eye on her symptoms.
Zara came back with a full-body rash, redness in the whites of the eyes and swollen hands and feet, which are classic symptoms of Kawasaki disease.
Kawasaki disease (KD) is a condition that causes inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels and affects mostly children under five years old.
The inflammation can weaken or damage the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with blood.
This can lead to aneurysms, heart attacks or heart failure, which is why Kawasaki disease is known as one of the leading causes of heart disease in children, according to the American Heart Association.
Treatment usually comes in the form of aspirin for the fever and rash and intravenous immunoglobulin therapy – a treatment made from donated blood – to reduce the risk of coronary artery abnormalities from developing.
Zara was given a test for COVID-10 just as a precaution, despite having no cough or shortness of breath. Two days later, a positive result came back.
‘There was an element of surprise and we had to put our heads together with a safe plan to send her home,’ Dr Veena Jones, a pediatric hospitalist at Lucille Packard, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
‘We had not been expecting this.’
She and her mother went into quarantine for 14 days, which they both successfully passed.
After not finding any other similar cases in medical journals, they realized this was the first recorded case of a child with both COVID-19 and KD.
The official case report is set to be published next month in the Journal of Hospital Pediatrics, but it has been pre-published with reports of children all around the world developing a rare inflammatory condition linked to the virus.
It comes as New York heath officials investigate 93 cases and five deaths of children with a mysterious inflammatory condition linked to COVID-19.
The disorder, dubbed ‘Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Potentially Associated with COVID-19,’ can attack multiple organs, impair heart function and weaken heart arteries.
According to New York’s health department, the majority of kids with the syndrome had either COVID-19 or COVID-19 antibodies.
‘We don’t know exactly what these patients are presenting. All we know is that they look like Kawasaki disease because they have cardiac involvement,’ Dr Roshni Mathew, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Lucille Packard, told The Chronicle.
‘I don’t think anyone knows for sure if there is a clear cut link to the virus but there is a suspicion of it.’