Pediatric illness that declined during pandemic sees sudden uptick in California

Kawasaki disease, an acute febrile illness that affects children, declined by 50% during COVID-19, but physicians at San Diego, Calif.-based Rady Children’s Hospital have noticed a resurgence, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Feb. 13.

The illness causes severe inflammation in blood vessels and can also appear with symptoms like a rash, fever, swelling of the hands and feet, irritation and redness of the whites of the eyes, and swollen lymph nodes. 

Physicians at Rady Children's told the Union-Tribune that in January alone they diagnosed 15 children with Kawasaki disease — many more than is typical. It's a trend they also believe could be happening across the U.S., according to the Rady Children clinician's research on the matter, which was published Feb. 6 in JAMA.

The resurgence could be due to set aside pandemic protocols like mask mandates and social distancing and could be due to something in the air, but physicians have so far been unable to determine a cause.

"It’s not a resounding signal, but some of this has led to some possible rethinking along the lines that there may be an element of human-to-human transmission," Daniel Cayan, PhD, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and co-author of the findings told the Union-Tribune.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography collaborated with Rady Children's physicians and experts from the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine at the University of California San Diego.


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