Virus-linked rare blood disorder probed in South Korean kids

By: Bloomberg |

Published: May 26, 2020 7:28:45 pm

An employee uses a pipette in an Osang Healthcare Co. laboratory manufacturing the GeneFinder Covid-19 Plus RealAmp kit in Anyang, South Korea. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Written by Lisa Du

South Korean health authorities are investigating if two minors are suffering from a serious and rare inflammatory pediatric disease linked to the novel coronavirus. If confirmed, these could be the first reported cases in Asia of the blood disorder that has afflicted children in Italy and the U.S.

One child is younger than 10 years old and the other is a teenager, Korea’s Center for Disease Control said in a statement Monday. While only the teenager is displaying symptoms of the Kawasaki disease-like inflammatory illness, the public health authority said it’s probing both the cases.

South Korea, which is on alert for a resurgence of infections, recently stepped up surveillance for this pediatric ailment after about 100 such cases were reported across Italy, New York and England. An Italian study earlier this month said the deadly pathogen may have triggered a 30-fold jump in the pediatric condition.

The emergence of the serious disorder in some children dashed hope that kids would be largely shielded from the virus’s most severe manifestations, while underscoring how much is still unknown about how Covid-19 harms the body.

While children remain at lower risk than adults of developing severe complications from the new coronavirus, these heighten the uncertainty over whether governments can safely ease social distancing measures and re-open schools.

Kawasaki disease is a rare condition that typically affects children younger than 5. It causes blood vessels to become inflamed and swollen. Typical symptoms include fever and rash, red eyes, dry or cracked lips or mouth, redness on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and swollen glands.

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