Kawasaki disease

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Kawasaki disease or Kawasaki syndrome is an acute febrile syndrome, vasculitis manifested in early childhood. Disorder is also called mucocutaneous lymph syndrome.

The disease was first described by Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki in 1967, which reported 50 distinct cases of this disease identified in children. These children had fever, rash, lymphadenopathy, conjunctival redness of eyes, lips and mouth inflammation, redness and swelling of the hands and feet.


1. Overview
2. Causes
3. Signs and symptoms
4. Diagnosis
5. Treatment


Cause of Kawasaki disease is not fully understood, but guilty of onset is assumed to be an infection.

1. Infection – Symptoms of Kawasaki disease are similar to those of infections caused by bacteria or virus. However, so far not been identified any bacteria or virus to cause this disease. Because Kawasaki disease is not contagious and it can’t be spread from person to person is unlikely to be caused by a single virus.

It usually affects children younger than 6 months. This suggests that infants are protected by antibodies transferred from mothers before birth or during breastfeeding. Antibodies are proteins that destroy the organisms that carry disease. Because there were quite a few cases of older children or adults who have this disease, it seems that they are immune to what triggers it.

2. Genetics – Children who developed Kawasaki disease may be genetically predisposed to it. Genes inherited from parents may increase the likelihood of a person to show condition. One theory is that there is no single gene for the disease Kawasaki, but rather several genes, which may slightly increase the possibilities of a child to develop the condition. The scientists are currently conducting research aimed at identifying the responsible genes.

3. Other theories – Another theory is that Kawasaki disease is an autoimmune condition (the system attacks healthy tissues and organs). However, other approaches suggest that the disorder is a reaction to certain drugs, environmental pollutants (such as chemicals, toxins , etc.).

Signs and symptoms

Kawasaki disease can’t be prevented, but it’s usually identified by symptoms and signs that occur in different stages. The first stage can last up to two weeks and involves persistent fever higher than 39 C, which takes at least five days. Other events in this phase include:

- severe redness of the eyes
- rash in the stomach, chest and genitals
- red, dry and cracked lips,
- swollen tongue, cover it with a white coat and large red bumps
- swollen lymph nodes
- irritated and sore throat
- swollen, red-violet hands and feet.

In the second phase, which begins within two weeks after the first fever, the skin of the hands and feet starts to exfoliate in large pieces. The child may have joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain. If your child has any of these symptoms, you must consult your doctor.


The condition can be difficult to diagnose because there is no specific test for this purpose. The doctor may detect Kawasaki disease if:

- child has a fever that lasts at least 5 days
- child has four of the five symptoms listed above
- the child can make routine laboratory tests and doctor may request an echocardiogram to check the problems present in the heart.


Kawasaki disease is a disease that is treated in hospital, as it can trigger serious complications. Treatment should begin as soon as possible. If the condition is not treated promptly, the recovery period may be extended. The risk of developing complications could be increased.

Aspirin and intravenous immunoglobulin treatment is the main method used for Kawasaki disease.

1. Aspirin – The child may be prescribed aspirin if he suffers from this condition. The presence of this disease is one of the few situations in which aspirin may be recommended for a child under 16 years. Unless your doctor prescribes aspirin, you will not treat young children with aspirin. Aspirin is classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. This is used to treat Kawasaki disease because:

- relieves pain and discomfort
- help reduce the high temperature
- high dose of aspirin reduces inflammation
- low dose aspirin prevents blood clots

The amount of aspirin prescribed for your child and the duration of its administration dependents of the symptoms. The doctor will give high doses of aspirin to the baby, probably until fever disappears. Aspirin will be prescribed in small quantities and then for six to eight weeks after onset of symptoms. This is done to prevent coronary artery abnormalities (development of complications in blood vessels supplying the heart). Research that examined the use of aspirin to treat Kawasaki disease found no evidence for or against its use.

2. Intravenous immunoglobulin – immunoglobulin is a solution consisting of antibodies, which are derived from healthy donors. Antibodies are proteins with the immune system fight diseases and organisms that carry disease. Research has shown that this treatment can reduce fever and decrease the risk of heart problems. Immunoglobulin used to treat Kawasaki disease is called gammaglobulins.

After the child received intravenous immunoglobulin, his symptoms should improve within 36 hours. If fever does not improve after 36 hours, it can be given a new dose of immunoglobulin.

3. Corticosteroids – These are a type of medications that contain hormones (chemicals that have a strong range of effects on the body). They may be recommended if a second dose of immunoglobulin is ineffective.

Are currently being researched studies on the benefits of using corticosteroids given to treat Kawasaki disease. Following review of such research has found that they can reduce the need for treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin, but not decreased risk of heart problems.



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