CC: Mysterious Illness Linked to COVID-19 also Impacts Young Adults

A 10-year-old Kentuckian is on a ventilator due to a COVID-19 infection.

Recent public health warnings about a severe and puzzling inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 have focused on children. But some doctors say they are also seeing the illness, like Kawasaki disease, in a few young adults.

What We Know:

  • A 20-year-old is being treated for the condition in San Diego, a 25-year-old has been diagnosed at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and several patients in their early 20s are hospitalized with the syndrome at NYU Langone in New York City.
  • Physician Jane Burns, who runs the Kawasaki Disease Research Center at University of California San Diego, worries the condition may be underdiagnosed in adults. Burns and her colleagues are setting up a way for Rady Children’s specialists to screen adults suspected to have illness and are talking with public health officials about expanding warnings about the condition to include young adults.
  • The presentation of the new illness is very different from what doctors saw in children with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, who showed up at emergency rooms during the first wave of sickness in March and April. Back then, many pediatric patients had preexisting conditions, active coronavirus infections and trouble breathing. Those coming in now are mostly previously healthy children and young adults who suddenly develop fever, abdominal pain and/or nausea and vomiting and rashes that can be signs of more serious problems.
  • While the overall number of COVID-19 patients has dropped off sharply in New York City and other early hot spots, the number of children and young adults with the inflammatory condition continues to mount. As of this week, more than 20 states have reported cases with the total number estimated to be several hundred. New York City has reported 147 children with the condition. On Wednesday, Children’s National Hospital in the District announced it had 23 cases.
  • At least four children, three in New York state and a 15-year old girl in Maryland, have died of apparent MIS-C or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in recent weeks. People in their 20s are at their physiological peak in terms of their lung capacity, reproductive system, and strength. So, in this way, young adults may be more like children than to people in their 30s – some of whom may be starting to experience the slow, gradual declines of aging.
  • The cause of Kawasaki has long been a mystery, and the same is true of the inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19. But doctors say they suspect some people are born with a genetic predisposition for an overactive immune response to the coronavirus that triggers a Kawasaki-like syndrome.

This syndrome appears to be an exceedingly rare complication in kids’ researchers hope to learn much more about from reported cases in Europe and New York. Symptoms to watch out for include persistent fever, rash, red irritated eyes, abdominal pain diarrhea, and vomiting. Experts want parents to be aware of the symptoms and call your pediatrician right away if you notice them in your child.

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Dominique Browder is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo.

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