Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki Disease

Topic Overview

What is Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood illness that affects the blood vessels. The symptoms can be severe for several days and can look scary to parents. But then most children return to normal activities.

Kawasaki disease can harm the coronary arteries , which carry blood to the heart muscle. Most children who are treated recover from the disease without long-term problems. Your doctor will watch your child for heart problems for a few weeks to a few months after treatment.

The disease is most common in children ages 1 to 2 years and is less common in children older than age 8. It does not spread from child to child (is not contagious).

What causes Kawasaki disease?

Experts don't know what causes the disease. The disease happens most often in the late winter and early spring.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include:

  • A fever lasting at least 5 days.
  • Red eyes.
  • A body rash.
  • Swollen, red, cracked lips and tongue.
  • Swollen, red feet and hands.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

Get medical help right away if your child has symptoms of Kawasaki disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent future heart problems.

How is Kawasaki disease diagnosed?

Kawasaki disease can be hard to diagnose, because there is not a test for it. Your doctor may diagnose Kawasaki disease if both of these things are true:

  • Your child has a fever that lasts at least 5 days.
  • Your child has a few of the other five symptoms listed above.

Your child may also have routine lab tests. And the doctor may order an echocardiogram to check for heart problems.

After your child gets better, he or she will need checkups to watch for heart problems.

How is it treated?

Treatment for Kawasaki disease starts in the hospital. It may include:

  • Immunoglobulin (IVIG) medicine. This is given through a vein (intravenous, or IV) to reduce inflammation of the blood vessels.
  • Aspirin to help pain and fever and to lower the risk of blood clots.

Aspirin therapy is often continued at home. Because of the risk of Reye syndrome , do not give aspirin to your child without talking to your doctor. If your child is exposed to or develops chickenpox or flu ( influenza ) while taking aspirin, talk with your doctor right away.

Your child may be tired and fussy, and his or her skin may be dry for a month or so. Try not to let your child get overly tired. And use skin lotion to help keep the fingers and toes moist.

If the disease causes heart problems, your child may need more treatment and follow-up tests.

How serious is Kawasaki disease?

It may be a few weeks before your child feels completely well. But most children who have Kawasaki disease get better and have no long-term problems. Early treatment is important, because it shortens the illness and lowers the chances of heart problems. Follow-up tests can help you and your doctor be sure that the disease did not cause heart problems.

Some children will have damage to the coronary arteries. An artery may get too large and form an aneurysm . Or the arteries may narrow or be at risk for blood clots. A child who has damaged coronary arteries may be more likely to have a heart attack as a young adult. If your child is affected, know what to watch for and when to seek care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about Kawasaki disease:

Other Places To Get Help

Organizations

HealthyChildren.org
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Phone: (847) 434-4000
Web Address: www.healthychildren.org
 

This American Academy of Pediatrics website has information for parents about childhood issues, from before the child is born to young adulthood. You'll find information on child growth and development, immunizations, safety, health issues, behavior, and much more.



American Heart Association (AHA)
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX  75231
Phone: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (1-800-242-8721)
Web Address: www.heart.org
 

Visit the American Heart Association (AHA) website for information on physical activity, diet, and various heart-related conditions. You can search for information on heart disease and stroke, share information with friends and family, and use tools to help you make heart-healthy goals and plans. Contact the AHA to find your nearest local or state AHA group. The AHA provides brochures and information about support groups and community programs, including Mended Hearts, a nationwide organization whose members visit people with heart problems and provide information and support.



Kawasaki Disease Foundation
9 Cape Ann Circle
Ipswich, MA  01938
Phone: (978) 356–2070
Fax: (978) 356-2079
Email: info@kdfoundation.org
Web Address: www.kdfoundation.org
 

The Kawasaki Disease Foundation is a nonprofit organization. You can sign up for newsletters and find support and information on the Web site.



KidsHealth for Parents, Children, and Teens
Nemours Home Office
10140 Centurion Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Phone: (904) 697-4100
Web Address: www.kidshealth.org
 

This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.



National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD  20824-0105
Phone: (301) 592-8573
Fax: (240) 629-3246
TDD: (240) 629-3255
Email: nhlbiinfo@nhlbi.nih.gov
Web Address: www.nhlbi.nih.gov
 

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing and treating:

  • Diseases affecting the heart and circulation, such as heart attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, and heart problems present at birth (congenital heart diseases).
  • Diseases that affect the lungs, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, sleep apnea, and pneumonia.
  • Diseases that affect the blood, such as anemia, hemochromatosis, hemophilia, thalassemia, and von Willebrand disease.


References

Other Works Consulted

  • Newburger JW, et al. (2006). Kawasaki disease. In FD Burg et al., eds., Current Pediatric Therapy, 18th ed., pp. 497–503. Philadelphia: Saunders.
  • Saulsbury FT (2010). Kawasaki syndrome. In GL Mandell et al., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3663–3666. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
  • Shulman ST (2009). Kawasaki disease. In RD Feigin et al., eds., Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1153–1175. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
  • Son MBF, Newburger JW (2011). Kawasaki disease. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 862–867. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
  • Takahashi M, Newburger JW (2008). Kawasaki disease (mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome). In HD Allen et al., eds., Moss and Adams' Heart Disease in Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Including the Fetus and Young Adult, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1242–1256. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerStanford T. Shulman, MD - Pediatrics
Last RevisedNovember 26, 2012

Last Revised: November 26, 2012

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