A dramatic increase in a mysterious illness making children very sick has doctors and parents around the country on high alert.

Experts are trying to determine if the disease is linked to the coronavirus and, while it's rare, health care professionals are warning families to be aware.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, children have mostly been spared, but a rare disease that's recently spiked in New York City is giving doctors pause.

"So far it looks like a delayed effect of the virus, if it is indeed an effect of the virus,” said Dr. Nathan Hagstrom, chair of Pediatrics for Lehigh Valley Health Network.

This mystery illness is Kawasaki Disease. Dr. Hagstrom says Kawasaki Disease is an inflammatory condition that typically effects children under the age of five.

"Rash, abdominal pain, fever and dizziness, not feeling well, vomiting, looking pale, those are important things to look for."

Kawasaki Disease has been around since the 1960s but it's now suggested it could be a side effect of COVID-19 and while that's not scientifically proven yet, some experts say they're not surprised to see it popping up right now.

"The most common theories are that it is probably initiated by a virus,” said Dr. Jeffrey Jahre of St. Luke’s.

Dr. Jahre says Kawasaki can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs but it's key to catch the disease early.

"If it's not treated the inflammation can affect the arteries that feed the heart."

That's why doctors are urging parents to act quickly if they see any of the symptoms, especially a rash, redness of the eye and high fever.

"It's so rare, I think it's unlikely that we'll have a child impacted in the Lehigh Valley but if we do we're more than prepared,” said Dr. Hagstrom.

Both doctors say these recent Kawasaki cases in New York City and other cities just show how little we know about COVID-19.

"There's so much more that we have to learn in terms of the long term effects and the complications and this is one of those things that's coming out now as our knowledge base increases,” said Dr. Jahre.

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