Local children are falling ill by similar symptoms of the mysterious Kawasaki disease

BOSTON — Doctors are warning parents about a mysterious illness targeting children, where the symptoms are similar to those of the Kawasaki disease.

“The tongue swells up and it’s really red, then has white spots," said Nancy O’Connor, a nurse from Plymouth, whose son, Jake, was diagnosed with the disease when he was 10 years old. “It looked like a giant strawberry.”

O’Connor said about a decade ago, Jake developed puzzling symptoms, including bloodshot eyes, hives and swelling. “The bottoms of his feet, the palms of his hands and his groin were completely red, sloughing off like he was molting," she said.

For nearly two weeks, Jake was suffering as O’Connor says doctors were left perplexed by his symptoms and condition. Turns out, they were symptoms of the Kawasaki disease. Now, local doctors are now seeing a return of what they call pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, similar to the Kawasaki disease.

“The child develops a fever, red eyes, a red rash, sometimes red lips, red tongue, rarely in complications, they can develop complications in their arteries, like heart arteries,” said Dr. C. Michael Gibson, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a Harvard Medical School professor. He says this syndrome is affecting children in New York and in Europe.

Doctors are trying to determine why symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease are appearing in some children and if there may be a link to COVID-19. “This seems to have cropped up as the coronavirus is erupting," said Gibson. "This might be an inflammatory response in kids after they had coronavirus.”

O’Connor says it took her son 3 weeks to recover and he hasn’t had any other side effects since it happened nearly a decade ago, except to his immune system. “Whenever he gets sick, he gets really sick, whenever he gets a cold, he gets down and out.”

Dr. Mary Beth Son, a pediatric rheumatologist, said Boston Children’s Hospital is seeing suspected cases of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome and research into why children are getting it is underway locally and in Europe.

Doctors say if you see early symptoms in your child, and a daily, persistent, go to the doctor right away.

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