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Kawasaki Disease

(Kawasaki Syndrome; Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome)

How to Say It: Kah-wah-sock-ee

Definition

Kawasaki disease is sudden inflammation of the blood vessels in young children.

This problem can lead to coronary artery disease. Care is needed right away. Early treatment can improve outcomes.

Coronary Arteries
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Causes

The exact cause is not known. It is thought to be triggered infection. The disease does not spread from person to person.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in children who are Asian and Black. It is also more common in children who are younger than 5 years of age.

Outbreaks of the disease are more common in the winter and spring months.

Symptoms

A child may have these problems during the first two weeks of the disease:

  • A fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.8 degrees Celsius) that lasts at least five days
  • Whites of the eyes that are red or bloodshot
  • A reddish skin rash
  • Soreness and swelling of the mouth, lips, and throat
  • A white or yellow coating and bright red bumps on the tongue
  • Swollen hands and feet that may look red
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Irritability

Later problems may be:

  • Peeling of the skin on the hands and feet
  • Joint pain
  • Belly pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Diagnosis

There is no test to diagnose Kawasaki disease. The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Blood and urine tests may be done to rule out other problems.

Images may be taken of your child's heart. This can be done with an echocardiogram.

The electrical activity of your child's heart may be measured. This can be done with an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Treatment

Kawasaki disease will go away on its own. Treatment can help limit damage. Medicine will be given, such as:

  • IV gamma globulin to fight infection
  • High doses of aspirin to ease swelling and fever
  • Steroids to ease inflammation that cannot be controlled with other medicines

Children with severe heart complications will need to have them treated as well.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent this health problem.

RESOURCES:

American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org

Kawasaki Disease Foundation
http://www.kdfoundation.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
http://www.heartandstroke.com

REFERENCES:

Kawasaki disease. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/CardiovascularConditionsofChildhood/Kawasaki-Disease_UCM_308777_Article.jsp. Accessed March 8, 2021.

Kawasaki disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/kawasaki-disease. Accessed March 8, 2021.

Kawasaki disease. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/kawasaki.html. Accessed March 8, 2021.

Kawasaki disease in children. Cincinnati Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/k/kawasaki. Accessed March 8, 2021.

McCrindle BW, Rowley AH, et al. Diagnosis, Treatment, and Long-Term Management of Kawasaki Disease: A Scientific Statement for Health Professionals From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017 Apr 25;135(17):e927-e999.

Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 3/8/2021