The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency issued a health advisory Thursday for doctors and parents about an increase in local Kawasaki disease cases.
According to the San Diego HHSA, 16 children in the county have been diagnosed with the disease in just the first six weeks of 2019.
Wet, cool weather in the forecast could lead to more cases through March, the HHSA said.
Kawasaki Disease is a rash/fever illness that can turn fatal. The symptoms include fever, rash, swelling of the hands and feet, bloodshot eyes, swollen lymph glands in the neck, and red mouth, lips and throat. Peeling of the fingers and toes occurs in many patients after the fever has subsided.
“Untreated, roughly one-quarter of children with Kawasaki disease develop coronary artery aneurysms balloon-like bulges of heart vessels that may ultimately result in heart attacks, congestive heart failure or sudden death,” the HHSA said.
The illness affects fewer than 6,000 children in the U.S. each year.
Clairemont residents Laura and Brad Hurvitz said their 3-year-old daughter, Amelia Hurvitz, was diagnosed with the disease Tuesday morning. They took her to the emergency room just in time.
The Hurvitz's told NBC 7 they had recently taken Amelia to urgent care a few times for other symptoms, not knowing what Kawasaki Disease existed.
This time, they thought Amelia had an ear infection, something they've treated her for many times. But, on Feb. 9, the little girl's fever ballooned to 102 degrees.
The next day, she was complaining of neck pain and on Monday night, it got worse.
"Laura came out after putting her to sleep and was like something is not right," Brad Hurvitz recalled.
"She was waking up and moving at 2 a.m. and moaning in pain, on her hands and knees," Laura Hurvitz said.
They rushed her to Rady Children's Hospital and she was diagnosed with Kawasaki's Disease.
"It was awful. Heartbreaking. It was certainly a true nightmare that will haunt us for a long time," Laura Hurvitz said.
The Hurvitzs said the doctors at Rady Children's saved Amelia's life.
They had gotten her to the emergency room before the disease had a chance to impact her heart. Brad Hurvitz said the doctor told him they gave her a medication that had the immunity of 10,000 people.
"As soon as she got the right treatment, that the next morning was a world of difference," said Laura Hurvitz.
"Once she was treated on the right medication, it was night and day, she was back," Brad Hurvitz added.
The cause of the disease is unknown, according to the HHSA, but researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine found that there could be a link between the disease and climate.
"We want community health care providers to have increased vigilance for Kawasaki disease cases during these periods of wet, cool weather," said Jane C. Burns, MD, a pediatrician at Rady Children's Hospital San Diego and director of the Kawasaki Disease Research Center. "The climate patterns that are associated with increased numbers of children diagnosed have occurred more frequently here so far this year."
The Hurvitzs hope their story serves as a warning to other parents with sick children to look for a persistent fever. And, even if parents aren't sure why their child is sick, they urge parents to take them to the ER and ask if the symptoms could be signs of Kawasaki Disease.
For more information on Kawasaki Disease, click here.