Girl, 4, in hospital with Kawasaki symptoms after 'waking up screaming'

A mum has shared pictures of her sick daughter in hospital to warn parents of the Kawasaki disease-like syndrome linked to coronavirus.

Tayah Fernandes, 4, started complaining of stomach ache and had little appetite around the start of May.

She was initially treated for suspected constipation, but after she woke in the night screaming and with a temperature, her mum Shannon rushed her to Tameside Hospital’s A&E where doctors ordered further tests.

With her eyes becoming bloodshot and her condition worsening, doctors carried out a chest X-ray and blood tests.

After being sent home to await the results of the tests, Tayah’s parents received a call to get her straight back to hospital.

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The family was told infection markers in Tayah’s blood were showing up at 175, compared with a normal reading between zero and eight.

‘We took her straight back up and they got her on an IV antibiotic drip,’ said Shannon, who had been self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 before her daughter fell ill.

‘As the days progressed, she became swollen and came out in a rash. She got strawberry tongue.’

With her infection markers still rising, Shannon, 27, and husband Alex, 31, were told that Tayah was suffering from a ‘Kawasaki-like syndrome’ which is being linked to coronavirus.

While Tayah had no direct symptoms of coronavirus, and two tests for Covid-19 came back negative, Shannon, a key worker in a nursing home, thinks it was her illness that affected her daughter in a different way.

After being treated with antibodies, Tayah was transferred to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where she had a heart scan and is still undergoing treatment.

‘They carried on treatments with steroids,’ said Shannon, a carer from Stalybridge. ‘She is still unwell, but her infection markers are coming down and doctors are pleased so far.

‘I can’t thank Manchester enough, they have been brilliant since we arrived.’

Shannon, also mum to eight-year-old Brooke, decided to share her family’s ordeal on social media as a warning to other parents.

She said: ‘I did the post to make other parents aware of how horrible this disease actually is.

‘It’s more worrying for a parent because this disease is something most people have never heard of, or know much about.

‘After lots of cannulas fitted, having to go to theatre to have a line fitted, X-rays and numerous blood tests, I never want to see another parent go through what we have been through this past week.’

Other parents have come forward with suspected cases of Kawasaki disease in their children – including a mum whose son, 1, was ill for weeks.

It comes as medical experts say they are investigating a possible link between the coronavirus pandemic and clusters of severe inflammatory disease among infants who are arriving in hospital with high fevers and swollen arteries.

Kawasaki disease, the cause of which is unknown, often afflicts children aged under five and is associated with:

  • A rash
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Red fingers or toes
  • Red eyes

In severe cases it can cause inflammation of arteries of the heart. There is some evidence that individuals can inherit a predisposition to the disease, but the pattern is not clear.

Doctors in northern Italy, one of the world’s hardest-hit areas during the pandemic, have reported extraordinarily large numbers of children under the age of nine with severe cases of what appears to be Kawasaki disease, more common in parts of Asia.

In Britain, doctors have made similar observations, prompting Health Secretary Matt Hancock to tell a coronavirus news briefing at the end of last month that he was ‘very worried’ and that medical authorities were looking at the issue closely.

Experts have already warned about the ‘Kawasaki-like syndrome’ affecting children and it has now been revealed that up to 100 children have been treated in hospital with symptoms including a rash and swollen glands, whereas others have become seriously ill and needed intensive care treatment.

Dr Liz Whittaker, from Imperial College, who is part of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health expert group on this condition, said: ‘This is an extremely rare condition. It’s hard to put an exact figure on the number of cases but we may have a better idea next week.

‘At the moment, we think there may be between 75 and a hundred cases. The cases range from children who are very unwell and in intensive care to children who are well again and home with their families but who will be carefully monitored.’

While stressing how rare it is for coronavirus to affect children, Professor Russell Viner, president of the College of Paediatrics and Child Health, told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: ‘This is a new syndrome – it appears to be happening mostly after coronavirus infection. We believe it’s where the body’s immune system overreacts to coronavirus.’

It is not yet clear how the disease is transmitted but parents have been advised to observe social distancing and practice infection prevention methods such as regular hand washing, while the link to Covid-19 is investigated.

But if you do feel that your child may have the symptoms of Kawasaki disease or something similar, contact a medical professional for advice on what to do next.

Mum-of-two Shannon has also criticised the government’s plan to reopen schools for certain year groups from June 1, saying it is putting more people at risk.

‘I am appalled that the government are even considering children going back to school,’ she said.

‘I tested positive to Covid-19 four weeks previous. It took a while for Tayah’s symptoms to progress. I think the government needs to look more closely into our country and see what else is happening around us.’

The government yesterday defended its plan to reopen schools from June, saying it is acting on ‘medical and scientific advice’.

Speaking in the House of Commons, education secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘When you have medical and scientific advice that is saying it’s the right time to start bringing schools back in a phased and controlled manner, it seems only the right thing to do and the only responsible thing to do.

‘The reason we’re bringing schools back is we know that children benefit from being educated by their brilliant teachers in front of them.

‘We recognise children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are the ones who are going to suffer the most if we do not bring schools back when we’re able to do so.’

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