Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease or Kawasaki syndrome, acute illness characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels that primarily affects young children; it is more common in boys and children of Asian descent. The main symptoms are a high fever, rash on the torso, dry and cracked lips and red bumps on the tongue, bloodshot eyes, swollen palms and soles, and swollen lymph glands in the neck. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include peeling skin on the hands and feet, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain; in severe cases, complications include aneurysm, heart inflammation, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems. The most common cause of acquired heart disease in children, it can be fatal, but treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin and high doses of aspirin have greatly reduced the frequency of coronary artery disease. Although the cause is unknown, it is thought to be an immune response to an infection or environmental trigger in a child with a genetic predisposition to the disease. It was first identified by Tomisaku Kawasaki in Japan in 1961, and since 1976, when cases were reported in Hawaii, the disease has been found worldwide. During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, a number of children were affected by a similar syndrome, known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Pathology