Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood illness that affects the blood vessels and can harm the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle. The disease usually affects children under the age of 5 and is most common in Asian children (particularly Japanese and Korean), but can also affect all ethnic groups.
While the cause is not known by scientists and medical experts, kids with Kawasaki disease can recover within a few days if symptoms are recognised early. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious complications that can affect the heart.
Signs and Symptoms of Kawasaki Disease
Currently, there is no preventive measure against Kawasaki disease, but there are signs and symptoms that appear in stages which you can look out for.
In the first phase which can last for up to 2 weeks, your child will have a fever that may stretch for at least 5 days.
Other symptoms include:
- Red eyes (Conjunctivitis)
- Rash on the stomach, chest and genitals
- Swollen, red and cracked lips and tongue
- Swollen, red feet and hand
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
In the second phase which usually begins within 2 weeks after the fever started, the skin on your childâ€™s hands and feet may begin to peel in large pieces. Your child may also have joint pain, diarrhoea, vomiting or abdominal pain. All these symptoms can still occur in children who have already been treated earlier on.
If left untreated within 10 days of the start of symptoms, more serious complications can occur. These include heart problems such as vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, and can affect the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart.
Other complications that could occur include arrhythmias, which involve changes in the normal pattern of the heartbeat and the abnormal functioning of some heart valves.
How is Kawasaki Disease treated and are there any side effects to it? More details on the disease on the next page.