Skip to content

Health & Baby

Kawasaki Disease: No Link to Travolta Death

Childhood Kawasaki Disease Unlikely Cause of Seizures in Travolta's Teenage Son Jett Travolta
Font Size
A
A
A

Kawasaki Disease: Mysterious Ailment on the Rise continued...

The classic symptom of Kawasaki disease -- technically known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome -- is a high fever lasting for five days or longer. Other symptoms include:

  • Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) in both eyes, but without purulent discharge.
  • Redness of the lips, tongue, and lining of the mouth. Lips are often cracked or bleeding.
  • A swollen cervical lymph node larger than 1.5 millimeters in diameter.
  • A red rash on the body, which may be flat or bumpy and which may have different patterns.
  • Changes in the extremities: swollen hands and feet with redness of the palms and soles. In the second week of illness, there may be peeling of the skin starting around the fingernails and extending to the arms.

Kawasaki disease is diagnosed when a child has five days of high fever and any four of the five symptoms listed above.

There may be other troublesome features, Litman says: swelling of the gallbladder, diarrhea, and painful swelling of the joints. But the scariest thing about Kawasaki disease is its possible effects on the heart.

Kawasaki Disease and Heart Trouble

"The most troublesome feature of Kawasaki disease is involvement of the heart," Litman says. "What worries everyone is that in the convalescent phase, about 10 days into the illness, there may be inflammation of the coronary arteries, which can result in aneurysm formation. This can cause turbulence throughout the artery and cause [narrowing] of the artery, which could cause a heart attack."

If not treated, one in five children with Kawasaki disease would get coronary aneurysms. Fortunately, treatment cuts this risk to about one in 20.

Treatment involves a high dose of immune globulin and a high-dose aspirin until the fever goes down. Once the fever goes away, the child's aspirin dose is reduced and doctors perform an echocardiogram to check for heart abnormalities.

"This generally results in a return to a happy state," Litman says. "In kids who do develop aneurysms, some may resolve, but this may still be a forerunner of adult-type coronary artery disease. They may be left with residual stenosis [narrowing of a heart artery] that can cause a future heart attack."

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
Mother with baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
 
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.
 

mother holding baby at night
ARTICLE
mother with sick child
QUIZ
 
baby with pacifier
VIDEO
Track Your Babys Vaccines
TOOL
 
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Slideshow
Woman holding feet up to camera
Article
 
Father kissing newborn baby
Article
baby gear slideshow
Slideshow