Kawasaki Disease is a rare condition with no known cause. Some doctors and experts believe the condition is an auto-immune disorder, but there is no clinical proof the condition starts in the immune system. The disease was first diagnosed in Japan where is more frequently occurs today. Kawasaki Disease is the second most common cause of heart disease in children under the age of five in the United States.
The disease causes arterial blood vessels to swell. Swelling may lead to an aneurysm and eventually to heart attack, though heart attacks are rarely reported.
The first reaction the body has to Kawasaki Disease is a fever. Fevers tend to stay around 102 degrees, though some children experience fevers of 104 degrees or higher. Fevers associated with Kawasaki Disease typically last more than five days. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen do not reduce fever associated with the disease in children’s doses. Fevers may last more than two weeks.
Other symptoms associated with Kawasaki Disease include red eyes, cracked lips, red tongue, red palms, and swollen extremities. Rashes may appear on the midsection of the body and skin may peel from genitals and extremities. Children may also suffer from diarrhea, stomach discomfort and cold symptoms.
There is no test for Kawasaki Disease. An official diagnosis is reached after a careful listing of symptoms. The symptoms may not appear to be associated with the disease at first so an official diagnosis may take time. Tests used to substantiate a diagnosis of Kawasaki Disease may include an electrocardiogram, C-reactive protein, and chest x-ray.
Children diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease must be treated in a hospital setting. Treatment includes IV gamma globulin. Huge doses of the globulin are given. Symptoms may start to fade within 24 hours of starting IV treatment. Aspirin may be given to fight the fever. Reye’s syndrome is a potential complication of giving aspirin to children, so parents should never give aspirin to children without strict instructions from a pediatrician.
There is no known alternative or home treatment for Kawasaki Disease. Children must be treated clinically to recover from the condition. The sooner treatment is started, the sooner a child will recover.
Children treated with IV gamma globulin typically recover from Kawasaki Disease, but there are rare cases of death associated with the disease. About 1-percent of children with Kawasaki Disease die from complications and heart-related side effects of the disease.