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Kawasaki disease

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Kawasaki disease






Kawasaki disease is an autoimmune disease that effects the mouth, skin and lymph nodes in children under the age 5. Kawasaki Disease occurs when the blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed. At this stage there is no clear cause however if detected early kids tend to make a full recovery within a few days. What is concerning is when Kawasaki disease is left untreated as it can lead to complications with the heart leading to coronary aneurysms. Kawasaki disease is most common in Japan with statistics showing that 150 children will develop Kawasaki disease at some point in their life.






Signs and Symptoms of Kawasaki disease

The first clear sign that someone may have Kawasaki disease is a fever that lasts for 5 days or more and doesn’t respond to medication like paracetamol. Fever levels at this stage may rise above 37.8 degrees. The second clear sign is that the skin starts to peel on the child’s hands and feet. This usually occurs 2 weeks after the fever has started.




Below are a list of other signs and symptoms associated with Kawasaki disease.


  • severe redness in the eyes
  • a rash on the stomach and chest
  • red, dry, cracked lips
  • swollen tongue
  • sore, irritated throat
  • swollen palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  • swollen lymph nodes

Concerns if left untreated

For most children who identify the disease early, recovery of the illness happens quite quickly. For the rare few that don’t receive treatment, complications can occur and in rare cases (1%) can lead to death. The most common complication is vasculitis which is inflammation of the blood vessels (Brandt et al. 2009).  Other complications associated with untreated Kawasaki disease include:

  • Increased wall thickness in the aorta, carotid artery and brachioradial artery
  • Increased risk of developing high blood pressure and obesity
  • Increases in lesions developing within the central nervous system (Senzaki et al, 2005)


Treatment for Kawasaki disease

Children who have the signs and symptoms of Kawasaki disease should be hospitalised by a physician who is familiar with the disease. High doses of Gamma Globulin (purified antibody) are usually prescribed to children with Kawasaki disease. This type of treatment is most effective within 7 days of the onset of fever (Oates-Whitehead et al, 2003).

In conjunction with Gamma Globulin, aspirin may be prescribed to help reduce blood clots that may form as result of the heart related conditions. Some physicians may also treat Kawasaki disease with Corticosteroids however clinical trials have shown that there are no l benefits to this type of medication (Newburger et al, 2007).



Brandt HR, Arnone M, Valente NY, Sotto MN, Criado PR (2009). "[Medium and large vessel vasculitis]". An Bras Dermatol (in Portuguese) 84 (1): 55–67.

Oates-Whitehead RM, Baumer JH, Haines L et al. (2003). Baumer JH, ed. "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews". Cochrane Database Systematic Review (4): 

Newburger JW et al., Randomized trial of pulsed corticosteroid therapy for primary treatment of Kawasaki disease, N Engl J Med. 2007 February 25;356(7):663-75


Senzaki H, Chen CH, Ishido H et al. (April 2005). "Arterial hemodynamics in patients after Kawasaki disease". Circulation 111 (16): 2119–25.

Read 1708 times Last modified on Thursday, 24 September 2015 10:42

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