November 28, 2015
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Kawasaki Disease (cont.)

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What are causes and risk factors of Kawasaki's disease?

The cause is not known. Microorganisms and toxins have been suspected, but none has been identified to date. It is common for Kawasaki’s disease to occur after a preceding infection, such as tonsillitis, ear infection, pneumonia, urine infection, or gastrointestinal infection. Genetic factors and the immune system seem to play roles in the disease, which is characterized by immune activation. The disease is more common in those of Japanese or Korean descent.

Who develops Kawasaki's disease?

Kawasaki disease typically affects children under 5 years of age. Only rarely does it affect children over 8 years of age, in which case it is sometimes referred to as atypical Kawasaki's disease.

What are the usual symptoms and signs of Kawasaki's disease?

The usual symptoms and signs of Kawasaki's disease include

  • prolonged fever,
  • reddening of the eyes without pus (pinkeye),
  • cracked and inflamed lips and mucous membranes of the mouth with an inflamed "strawberry" tongue,
  • ulcerative gum disease (gingivitis),
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck (cervical lymphadenopathy),
  • joint pain often on both sides of the body,
  • irritability,
  • cough and runny nose,
  • a rash that is raised and bright red, with cracking and peeling skin, especially on the palms and soles.

The rash appears in a glove-and-sock fashion over the skin of the hands and feet. The rash becomes hard, swollen (edematous), and then peels off.

What are unusual signs and symptoms of Kawasaki's disease?

Most of the common symptoms described above will resolve without complications, even if untreated. Less common findings include inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericarditis), joints (arthritis), or covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), and the other heart complications listed below in the section on serious complications. The outlook (prognosis) for an individual affected is primarily determined by the seriousness of any heart complications.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/19/2015



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