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).
Experts don't know what causes the disease. The disease happens most often in the late winter and early spring.
Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include:
Get medical help right away if your child has symptoms of Kawasaki disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent future heart problems.
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 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.
Treatment for Kawasaki disease starts in the hospital. It may include:
Aspirin therapy is often continued at home. Because of the risk of Reye syndrome, do not give aspirin to your child without talking to your doctor. If your child is exposed to or develops chickenpox or flu (influenza) while taking aspirin, talk with your doctor right away.
Your child may be tired and fussy, and his or her skin may be dry for a month or so. Try not to let your child get overly tired. And use skin lotion to help keep the fingers and toes moist.
If the disease causes heart problems, your child may need more treatment and follow-up tests.
It may be a few weeks before your child feels completely well. But most children who have Kawasaki disease get better and have no long-term problems. Early treatment is important, because it shortens the illness and lowers the chances of heart problems. Follow-up tests can help you and your doctor be sure that the disease did not cause heart problems.
Some children will have damage to the coronary arteries. An artery may get too large and form an aneurysm. Or the arteries may narrow or be at risk for blood clots. A child who has damaged coronary arteries may be more likely to have a heart attack as a young adult. If your child is affected, know what to watch for and when to seek care.
Learning about Kawasaki disease:
Other Works Consulted
Chen S, et al. (2016). Coronary artery complication in Kawasaki disease and the importance of early intervention: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, 170(12): 1156–1163. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2055. Accessed December 15, 2016.
Newburger JW, et al. (2004). Diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of Kawasaki disease: A statement for health professionals from the Committee on Rheumatic Fever, Endocarditis, and Kawasaki Disease, Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young, American Heart Association. Pediatrics, 114(6): 1708–1733. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2004-2182. Accessed December 13, 2016.
Newburger JW, et al. (2006). Kawasaki disease. In FD Burg et al., eds., Current Pediatric Therapy, 18th ed., pp. 497–503. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Shulman ST (2009). Kawasaki disease. In RD Feigin et al., eds., Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1153–1175. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Son MBF, Newburger JW (2011). Kawasaki disease. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 862–867. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Takahashi M, Newburger JW (2008). Kawasaki disease (mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome). In HD Allen et al., eds., Moss and Adams' Heart Disease in Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Including the Fetus and Young Adult, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1242–1256. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsThomas M. Bailey, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerStanford T. Shulman, MD - Pediatrics
Current as ofJanuary 31, 2017
Current as of: January 31, 2017
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford T. Shulman, MD - Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.