Medical Q&As

Kawasaki disease - describe?

Can you give me any information on Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease is the commonest form of heart disease (excluding congenital heart disease) among children in the developed world. The cause is unknown and its highest incidence is in Japan where it was originally described approximately thirty years ago. There is no diagnostic test for this condition. The illness begins abruptly with fever that is unresponsive to the usual anti-fever remedies. Typically the child has a persistent high fever for more than five days. At least four of the following signs must also be present to make the diagnosis: 1. rash involving the face, trunk, limbs and genital area. 2. conjunctivitis that involves both eyes. 3. mouth changes including cracked lips, strawberry tongue and a very inflamed throat. 4. reddening of the palms and soles, swelling of the hands and feet followed several weeks later by scaling of the skin on the fingers and toes. 5. large swollen neck glands that are greater then 1.5 cm. in diameter. Approximately 20% of these children develop complications in the heart or circulatory system. These complications may include rhythm disturbances of the heart, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), valvulitis (inflammation of a heart valve) or coronary artery aneurysms (dilation of the arteries). Some children may develop arteritis (inflammation of the arteries) in their limbs. The complications in the cardiovascular system develop in the second week of the illness. Affected children are usually treated with aspirin and immunoglobulin. Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to preventing the cardiovascular complications but this is not easy because there is no diagnostic test. You can learn more about Kawasaki disease by following this link: