What is Kawasaki disease?
- Kawasaki disease is an acute illness, associated with fevers, that mainly affects previously healthy children between 6 months to 5 years of age.
- Kawasaki disease is currently the most common cause of acquired heart disease in children in the developed world.
- The diagnosis of Kawasaki disease is based on fever of at least five days' duration and a number of additional signs and symptoms, which often appear in sequences rather than all at once.
- The diagnosis of Kawasaki disease is considered in any child with prolonged fever, regardless of other symptoms. Of note, Kawasaki disease is associated with a risk of developing critical widening of the arteries to the heart (coronary artery aneurysms) and subsequent heart attacks in untreated children.
- Kawasaki disease was first reported in Japan in the 1960s, and the rates of the disease remain highest in Japan, followed by Taiwan and then Korea, though the rates in Europe and North America are increasing.
What causes Kawasaki disease?
The cause of Kawasaki disease is not completely known. There are a number of theories regarding the cause, but so far, none have been proven. Some believe that the disease is caused by an infection since outbreaks are commonly clustered and appear similar to other infectious diseases (abrupt onset, fever, rapid resolution of symptoms within one to three weeks). It is commonly thought that a bacterial toxin, acting as a disease trigger, initiates the disease. This toxin may come from common bacterial infections in children, such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/20/2016
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