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Kawasaki Disease - Topic Overview

What is Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood illness that affects the blood vessels. The symptoms can be severe for several days and can look scary to parents. But then most children return to normal activities.

Kawasaki disease can harm the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle. Most children who are treated recover from the disease without long-term problems. Your doctor will watch your child for heart problems for a few weeks to a few months after treatment.

The disease is most common in children ages 1 to 2 years and is less common in children older than age 8. It does not spread from child to child (is not contagious).

What causes Kawasaki disease?

Experts don't know what causes the disease. The disease happens most often in the late winter and early spring.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include:

  • A fever lasting at least 5 days.
  • Red eyes.
  • A body rash.
  • Swollen, red, cracked lips and tongue.
  • Swollen, red feet and hands.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

Get medical help right away if your child has symptoms of Kawasaki disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent future heart problems.

How is Kawasaki disease diagnosed?

Kawasaki disease can be hard to diagnose, because there is not a test for it. Your doctor may diagnose Kawasaki disease if both of these things are true:

  • Your child has a fever that lasts at least 5 days.
  • Your child has a few of the other five symptoms listed above.

Your child may also have routine lab tests. And the doctor may order an echocardiogram to check for heart problems.

After your child gets better, he or she will need checkups to watch for heart problems.

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