Kawasaki's Disease

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

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What are causes and risk factors of Kawasaki's disease?

The cause is not known. Microorganisms and toxins have been suspected, but none has been identified to date. It is common for Kawasaki’s disease to occur after a preceding infection, such as tonsillitis, ear infection, pneumonia, urine infection, or gastrointestinal infection. Genetic factors and the immune system seem to play roles in the disease, which is characterized by immune activation. The disease is more common in those of Japanese or Korean descent.

Who develops Kawasaki's disease?

Kawasaki disease typically affects children under 5 years of age. Only rarely does it affect children over 8 years of age, in which case it is sometimes referred to as atypical Kawasaki's disease.

What are the usual symptoms and signs of Kawasaki's disease?

The usual symptoms and signs of Kawasaki's disease include

The rash appears in a glove-and-sock fashion over the skin of the hands and feet. The rash becomes hard, swollen (edematous), and then peels off.

What are unusual signs and symptoms of Kawasaki's disease?

Most of the common symptoms described above will resolve without complications, even if untreated. Less common findings include inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericarditis), joints (arthritis), or covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), and the other heart complications listed below in the section on serious complications. The outlook (prognosis) for an individual affected is primarily determined by the seriousness of any heart complications.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/19/2015
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