What is Kawasaki Disease?
Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood disease that causes the walls of the blood vessels in the body to become inflamed. It can affect any type of blood vessel, including the arteries, veins, and capillaries.
Kawasaki disease is sometimes called mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome because it also affects glands that swell during an infection (lymph nodes), skin, and the mucous membranes inside the mouth, nose, and throat.
What are symptoms of Kawasaki Disease?
Kawasaki disease signs and symptoms usually appear in three phases:
A fever that is often is higher than 102.2 F and lasts more than three days
Extremely red eyes without a thick discharge
A rash on the main part of the body and in the genital area
Red, dry, cracked lips and an extremely red, swollen tongue
Swollen, red skin on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and perhaps elsewhere
Peeling of the skin on the hands and feet, especially the tips of the fingers and toes, often in large sheets
In the third phase of the disease, signs and symptoms slowly go away unless complications develop. It may be as long as eight weeks before energy levels seem normal again.
What causes Kawasaki Disease?
The cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown. It doesn’t appear to be hereditary or contagious.
Sometimes more than one child in a family can develop Kawasaki disease, which may indicate a genetic predisposition for the syndrome.
How is Kawasaki Disease diagnosed?
There’s no specific test available to diagnose Kawasaki disease.
Are there treatment options available for Kawasaki Disease?
The goals of initial treatment are to lower fever and inflammation and prevent heart damage.
Treatment for Kawasaki disease may include:
Gamma globulin. Infusion of an immune protein (gamma globulin) through a vein (intravenously) can lower the risk of coronary artery problems.
Aspirin. High doses of aspirin may help treat inflammation. Aspirin can also decrease pain and joint inflammation, as well as reduce the fever.