Kawasaki disease

Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Pediatrics

Clinical Definition

Kawasaki disease is a febrile illness and a type of vasculitis that primarily affects children. Kawasaki disease does not appear to be contagious, and the etiology is unknown. The condition also causes inflammation of the hands and feet. Its association with vasculitis is responsible for acquired heart disease in some children. 

In Our Own Words

Kawasaki disease occurs in children (rarely in adults) and is associated with fever, rash, and inflammation, often with redness of the eyes, and redness and swelling of the hands and feet. Usually, the fever lasts at least five days and does not respond much to antibiotics or acetaminophen. In some cases, the inflammation involves the arteries, and potentially the coronary arteries, which can lead to heart damage. However, most children with Kawasaki disease do not develop heart problems. The cause of Kawasaki disease is not known, but theories include infection and/or autoimmune response. 

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  • American Heart Association. "Kawasaki Disease." http://www.heart.org. Accessed November 2013.
  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. "Kawasaki Disease." http://www.chop.edu. Accessed November 2013.
  • University of Rochester Medical Center. Kawasaki Disease. http://www.urmc.rochester.edu. Accessed November 2013.
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