Is there an association between the current coronavirus epidemic and Kawasaki disease, a rare inflammatory disorder in children?

Investigation, Stethoscope, To Listen, Health, Medical

Bottom Line:

There has been a 30-fold increased incidence of severe Kawasaki disease in Italy since the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic began.


Verdoni, L. et al. An outbreak of severe Kawasaki-like disease at the Italian epicentre of the SARS-Cov-2 epidemic: An observational cohort study. The Lancet (2020).

Date Published:

13 May 2020


Kawasaki disease is a rare condition seen in young children characterized by inflammation of medium-sized blood vessels in the body, leading to fever, rashes, eye irritation, and heart problems. The cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown, although current hypotheses suggest that infections can contribute to development of the disease. Recently, there have been a growing number of reports of children admitted to hospital with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease since the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic started. Therefore, researchers at a hospital in the Italian province of Bergamo aimed to study the incidence and features of patients admitted to hospital with this new “Kawasaki-like” disease. To do this, they reviewed and compared the medical records of children admitted with Kawasaki disease before and after the epidemic started in their region. The results of the study showed that there was a 30-fold increased incidence of Kawasaki disease since the epidemic started. In addition, patients diagnosed with the disease during the epidemic appeared to have a more severe disease course, including more heart problems, shock, immune system activation, and resistance to medication. Although this study only included a few patients, the results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may be linked to an increased incidence of severe Kawasaki disease in children, and a similar outbreak of this rare disease may be expected in other countries.

Summary by: Louis Huynh