Kawasaki disease (KD) is a relatively uncommon illness that mostly affects children under 5 years of age.
The most serious complication of KD is damage to the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.
If untreated, up to 25% of children with KD develop coronary artery dilation which can damage the coronary arteries and put them at risk of heart disease.
If the symptoms and signs of KD are recognised early and treated with intravenous immunoglobulin, most children make a full recovery and coronary artery complications are prevented or minimised.
KD primarily affects young children. Approximately 75% of patients are under 5 years of age. Older children and more rarely teenagers can also get KD. It is more common in boys than girls.
Early symptoms of Kawasaki disease include:
- Fever that can last for several days
- Rash, can be over whole body and may be worse in the groin area
- Red eyes – without discharge
- Bright red, swollen, or cracked lips
- Red tongue (strawberry like)
- Swollen hands and feet
- Redness of the palms and soles
- Swollen lymph node in the neck
Children with KD are often very irritable.
There is no specific test for KD. Doctors make a clinical diagnosis based on symptoms, physical findings and laboratory tests.
The cause of KD is unknown. It is thought that an infection may trigger the condition, but KD is not contagious.