Coronavirus and PKD

COVID-19 is a serious health concern and the impact on our lives continues to evolve on a daily basis. In these unprecedented times, individuals with pre-existing conditions need to be especially careful. It is our goal to provide you with up-to-date information as it relates to this virus, and to help ease your mind during this challenging time.

The PKD Foundation of Canada was proud to present a complimentary webinar on Thursday June 4th, How COVID-19 Affects the PKD Population. This webinar will gave attendees the opportunity to ask questions to one of Canada’s leading ADPKD specialists. 

View Webinar Recording!

Coronavirus and PKD: What You Should Know

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person contact. Older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions, including kidney disease, seem to be at higher risk for more serious illness.  Therefore, it is especially important for people with PKD to take actions to reduce your risk of exposure.

Depending on the severity of the outbreak in your community, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recommends the below to slow the spread and reduce the impact of the disease.

  • Stay home if you feel sick or have any symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills.
  • Avoid others who are sick. Limiting face-to-face contact with others as much as possible.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If you don’t have soap and water, use hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
  • Clean very often the things that get touched a lot, like door handles.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practice social distancing by staying away from places with a lot of people (like restaurants or mass gatherings) and maintain a distance of about 6 feet from others when in public if possible. Avoid hugs and handshakes.
  • Wear a facemask if your healthcare team or someone from the public health office says you should.

Patients with early-stage kidney disease or who are post-transplant should consult with their doctors to see if any additional preventative measures are necessary

Call Ahead

If you are experiencing symptoms and feel you need to be seen by your doctor, call your healthcare provider before your appointment. Tell your health provider that you are concerned that you may have COVID-19. This allows your provider to take steps necessary to keep others from being exposed.

Guidance for Dialysis Treatments

If you are a dialysis patient, you may be at higher risk for becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 but it’s important that you do not miss your treatments. If you feel sick, please be sure to tell a member of your healthcare team. The PHAC has up-to-date information on clinic closings and emergency resources. If you’re concerned, here are some questions you can ask the staff at your centre:

  • Can I wait in my car instead of in the waiting room?
  • What should I do if I have any flu-like symptoms?
  • Can you provide a mask for me to wear during my treatment?
  • What procedures do you have in place if you suspect a patient at the centre may have COVID‍-‍19?
  • How will you inform patients of any emergency information?
  • Where will I receive dialysis if I get sick?

Check out this 3-Day Emergency Diet Plan; it does not take the place of dialysis but can reduce the waste that builds up in your blood in an emergency where you are unable to get to your treatment.

Guidance for Post-Transplant Patients

If you are a post-transplant patient, due to your need for immunosuppressive drugs, you may be at higher risk for becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. If you feel sick, please be sure to tell a member of your healthcare team. If you’re concerned, here are some questions you can ask the staff at your centre:

  • What should I do about having medications on hand?
  • If I am feeling sick, should I contact my primary care doctor?
  • If I am feeling sick, should I contact the transplant centre?
  • Should I wear a face mask when I need to have labs?

Guidance for pediatric patients

SickKids suggests that children who are immunocomprimised or have chronic medical conditions may be at greater risk of COVID-19 complications.  They recommend that you take direction from your primary care team and to continue taking any medications that have been prescribed.  Get more "information for parents with immunocomprimised children and children with chronic medical conditions" from SickKids here.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress associated with the outbreak of COVID-19 is normal and may be different for each individual experiencing symptoms of stress or anxiety. Stress may include:

  • Fear about your own health of about the health of someone you care about
  • Difficulty sleeping or changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Chronic health problems can worsen
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

The World Health Organization has listed mental health considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak in action to relive stress of those affected.  This list is helpful to individuals, those in leadership positions,  parents, healthcare workers and more.  You can read more here.

Things you can do:

  • Give yourself a break from news and social media
  • Take care of yourself
  • Deep breathing or meditation
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Exercise
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Find time to relax and unwind
  • Find time to do things you enjoy
  • Connect with others and discuss how you are feeling

Learn more about helping children cope here

Kidney-Friendly Shelf-Stable Items for Your Pantry

If there is a virus outbreak in your area and you need to decrease your risk of getting sick, it’s important that you have shelf-stable food (foods that last a long time without spoiling, such as canned foods) in your home. It’s important to prepare now by stocking up 2–3 weeks’ worth of healthy, kidney friendly foods, fresh water, and medicines. This will help reduce your risk of infection by allowing you to avoid crowded spaces like grocery stores and drug stores.More information about how to get your home ready and updates about COVID-19 can be found on the PHAC website or your local health department. If you have any other questions or concerns please email us at [email protected].


Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath and can appear 2–14 days after exposure to the virus.

The PHAC recommends that we all practice every day preventive behaviours such as: stay home when you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, and keep surfaces that you touch frequently clean.

Older adults and those with underlying health conditions, such as chronic kidney disease appear to be at a higher risk of complications if they become ill with COVID-19. Anyone at a higher risk, such as transplant recipients, should take extra precaution to avoid crowds and reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) stages 3-5 have been defined as being at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus. PHAC recommends that everyone take social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

  • If you develop symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) contact your health provider.
  • If you have traveled to an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 or you have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your health provider.
  • If you have underlying health conditions or are immunocompromised, contact your health provider at the onset of symptoms, even if the symptoms are mild.
  • If you are experiencing severe symptoms, contact your health care provider or emergency room immediately.
  • Your doctor must determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether or not you should be tested.

PHAC recommends that you seek medical advice if you develop symptoms, have been in close contact with someone that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you have been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. You can also use PHAC’s self assessment tool here.

Watch for symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath in those living with you. If symptoms appear, isolate yourself for 14 days from that person. If you are elderly or have a higher risk from COVID-19, leave your home and stay with friends or family until the 14 days have ended. If it’s not possible for you to move out temporarily, stay away from others in the house as much as you can. This includes:

  • Spend as little time as possible in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
  • Aim to keep 6 feet away from others and sleep in a different bed where possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom if you can and use separate towels for drying after bathing, showering and washing your hands.
  • If you do share a toilet and bathroom, others should clean it after use. After each cleaning, you should be the first to use it.
  • Don’t use the kitchen when others are in it and take your food to your room to eat.
  • If you have one, use a dishwasher. If you’re using your own utensils, dry them with a separate tea towel.

In general, you should call your child’s doctor for the same reasons you would normally. Bringing your child to an ER or urgent care to get tested or for minor symptoms is currently not recommended since many sites are not offering testing and there is a risk of exposure to COVID-19 and other serious infections. Consider calling your child’s doctor and ask about getting your child tested if they have:

  • Respiratory symptoms beyond a mild cough: difficulty breathing, rapid or deep breathing, or a severe cough
  • Shortness of breath from continued coughing
  • Refusing liquids with decreased urine frequency
  • Crying without ability to be consoled
  • Fever that is not responsive to fever reducing medications
  • Behavior that is not normal for your child

Community spread means that people living in specific communities are testing positive for the virus and this includes individuals that are not sure how they became infected.

To stay up to date on how COVID-19 is spreading in your local community, visit your state and local health department websites.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, contact your physician’s office before going in so that the team can be ready to care for you and to protect staff and other patients. If you have routine medical or dental appointments, contact your health care team before deciding to cancel your appointment. All necessary appointments and treatments should be kept unless your doctor advises that you reschedule.

PHAC does not recommend that individuals wear a mask in public to protect themselves from COVID-19.

You should wear a mask if you are sick and need to be in public or are going into a medical provider’s office or if you are caring for someone that is sick. Please do not hoard face masks if you do not need them as many hospitals are experiencing a shortage.

Learn more about when and how to wear a mask properly from the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you are currently on dialysis, you should not miss a treatment. If you are feeling sick, notify your healthcare team immediately.

The Canadian Society of Nephrology has recently released a list of contingency plans from national healthcare providers to ensure necessary precautions are taken to keep patients safe and to prevent the spread of COVID-19

The Canadian Society of Transplantation is recommending that those at higher risk of getting sick should stock up on supplies, take precaution to keep space between yourself and others, avoid crowds as much as possible, be aware of COVID-19 outbreaks in your community and stay home to reduce your risk of being exposed. Visit this link for additional resources related to COVID-19 and organ donation.

If you are feeling sick and experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, contact your health care team immediately.

Transplantations are considered an essential surgery which can be performed safely if a hospital feels they have the staff and resources available. Please contact your transplant centre to confirm.

There is no evidence to suggest that living kidney donors would be at any higher risk than the general public of catching the virus and there should be no reason to expect donors to be at a higher risk of more severe illness if they do become ill with the virus.

Clinical trials and other research studies may slow or pause for the near future. Health Canada announced their support of changes to study schedules, clinic visits and other forms of participation to protect the safety of participants. If you’re in a research study, contact your study team to find out how COVID-19 may impact your next study visit. Research done online or over the phone is not expected to be impacted.

Basic research labs (non-human studies) at many universities in Canada are temporarily halting research and closing due to concerns over the safety of the research staff. This may delay the work and ultimate results of PKDFOC-funded research studies.


Useful Links from the Public Health Agency of Canada

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Outbreak UpdatesCoronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Frequently Asked QuestionsCoronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Travel Health NoticesPublic Health Authorities
Government of Canada novel coronavirus information line:   
1 833 784-4397

Additional Links:
National Kidney Foundation - COVID-19- How to Protect Yourself
Kidney Today - Corona virus and Kidney Patients
Kidney community Emergency Response- 3 Day Emergency Diet Plan
SickKids Hospital- COVID-19: Information for parents of immunocompromised children and children with chronic medical conditions

World Health Organization- Mental Health and Psyho-social considerations During the COVID-19 Outbreak