The British health authorities have launched in recent days an alert concerning young children. An increasing number of them are indeed showing symptoms resembling Kawasaki disease, a vascular syndrome, and the cause of which remains unknown. An alert which has since been confirmed by hospitals in France, as well as in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and the United States.
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Questioned on Franceinfo then in the National Assembly, the Minister of Health assured Wednesday April 29 to take these cases “Very seriously”. In France, there are about twenty children, from 2 to 18 years old, affected for three weeks in Parisian hospitals, as well as some others in other hospitals, according to information given to AFP by Damien Bonnet, head of service at the Center for Rare Diseases and Congenital Heart Defects at Necker Hospital.
► What is this disease?
This pathology is manifested by fever, digestive symptoms and fairly general inflammation of the vessels, which can cause inflammation of the heart muscle itself, resulting in heart failure.
“This inflammation of the blood vessels affects the endothelial cells, which line the interior of the vessels, said Professor Jérôme Larghero, director of the Meary Center for Cellular and Gene Therapy at the AP-HP at Saint-Louis Hospital. It probably promotes the formation of blood clots, which would explain the appearance of pulmonary embolism. “
Admittedly, it resembles Kawasaki disease (named after the Japanese doctor who described it in 1967). But the latter “Is primarily a disease of the small child, rather less than 2 years old, even if there are up to 4 or 5 years. There, all ages seem to be affected “, Damien Bonnet added to the AFP. Data which supports the hypothesis of another disease, similar, but distinct.
► How is it treated?
Kawasaki disease, which is very rare in normal circumstances, is treatable in the hospital. And so far, none of the reported cases appear to have progressed to death. “Most of these children need help with medication to support the functioning of the heart.. Almost all of them then evolve favorably, even if they have been in intensive care ”, insists Professor Damien Bonnet.
More specifically, they are given several medications. Generally, aspirin is prescribed to prevent blood clots, as well as immunoglobulins (antibodies).
► Is it due to the Covid-19 coronavirus?
Some of the children with this unknown inflammation have tested positive, others have not. “All paediatricians and resuscitators in Europe are working together to see whether or not there is a need to make a link with the Covid-19, which I do not know yet when I speak to you”, Olivier Véran said on Wednesday, April 29 at the National Assembly.
The exact link with the Covid-19 remains to be specified. “ We do not yet understand why this influx of young patients is delayed compared to that of the epidemic in Ile-de-France, estimated in turn Professor Pierre-Louis Léger, head of pediatric resuscitation at Trousseau Hospital (AP-HP) on BFM-TV. We do not assert that there is a causality between Covid-19 infection and these clinical pictures. But one hypothesis would make it a secondary disease of Covid-19, like a delayed inflammatory phenomenon. “
A supposition reinforced by temporal conjunction of the two phenomena, as Pr Damien Bonnet emphasizes again : “We are in the days of the Covid-19 epidemic, and we see an infrequent disease becoming more frequent. That questions us. “