Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki Disease is an uncommon illness in children of age no more than 5 years old that is characterized by high fever of at least five days duration and with at least four of the following symptoms:

• Inflammation with reddening of the whites of the eyes without pus
• Redness or swelling of the hands or feet
• Generalized skin peeling
• Rash
• Lymph node swelling in the neck
• Cracking inflamed lips or throat, or red “strawberry” tongue
• Gingivitis

The disease was first described in Japan by Tomisaku Kawasaki in 1967, and the first cases outside of Japan were reported in Hawaii in 1976. Kawasaki disease occurs worldwide and mostly boys are affected among younger children.

No test specifically diagnoses Kawasaki disease. The diagnosis may be based usually on comparison of the patient’s symptoms with the most classical symptoms of the disease. However, children having fever for more than 5 days should be looked closely because no classical symptoms may be found but they are still at the risk of having the disease. It is always wise to prevent an illness than curing it.

Chest x-ray, complete blood count, C-reactive protein (CRP), electrocardiogram (ECG), and serum albumin are some of the tests that can be performed to determine Kawasaki disease. If you undergo a procedure like ECG and echocardiography, it will also reveal some of the signs of pericarditis, myocarditis, arthritis, aseptic meningitis, and inflammation of the coronary artery.

Treating Kawasaki disease is important to prevent fatality of the patient due to complications of just setting aside the illness. The affected patient should be admitted to the hospital and be attended by medical professionals.

Intravenous gamma globulin or IV gamma globulin is the standard treatment for Kawasaki disease and it is given in high doses. Also, high dose aspirin is given along with IV gamma globulin. Even when children are treated by IV gamma globulin and aspirin, up to 25% of them still develop problem in their coronary arteries.

Full recovery can be expected to a patient when the disease is recognized and treated at an earlier time. However, about 1% of the patients die because of the complications from inflamed coronary blood vessel. Complications involving the heart, including vessel inflammation and aneurysm, can cause heart attack at a young age or later in life.

According to the review of Dr. David Zieve, a medical director in A.D.A.M. Inc., about Kawasaki disease, there are no known measures that will prevent this disease, that only following symptoms and series of tests can determine whether our children have been affected by it. He also said that Kawasaki disease affects boys more than girls of Asian ethnicity. Particularly Japanese and Korean are most susceptible as well as Afro-Caribbean ethnicity.

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