Kawasaki disease (KD) is a disease in which the medium-sized blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed. The disease can affect any type of blood vessel in the body, including the arteries, veins, and capillaries. Kawasaki disease affects children of all races and ages and both genders. Although it is more prevalent among children of Asian and Pacific Island descent, KD affects people of all racial and ethnic groups. The disease is more likely to affect boys than girls. Most cases occur in children younger than 5 years old.
Sometimes Kawasaki disease affects the coronary arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart. As a result, some children who have Kawasaki disease may develop serious heart problems. Kawasaki disease is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children.
One of the main symptoms of Kawasaki disease is a fever that lasts longer than 5 days. The fever remains high even after treatment with standard childhood fever medicines. Early symptoms of KD include: fever that lasts for five or more days; rash, often worse in the groin area; red bloodshot eyes, without drainage or crusting; bright red, swollen, cracked lips; "strawberry" tongue, which appears with shiny bright red spots; swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Children with Kawasaki disease should be hospitalized and cared for by a physician who has experience with this disease. Doctors can manage the symptoms of Kawasaki disease if they catch it early. Symptoms often disappear within just 2 days of the start of treatment. If Kawasaki disease is treated within 10 days of the onset of symptoms, heart problems usually do not develop.
Cases that go untreated can lead to more serious complications, such as vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels. This can be particularly dangerous because it can affect the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.