Kawasaki Disease

What is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki disease is the most common acquired heart disease in children across the world. The condition features inflamed blood vessels that can impact the heart. The most common age group affected is young children.

Specifically, Kawasaki disease can impair heart muscle and valve function. Left untreated, these impairments can lead to serious health complications.

Signs & Symptoms

Kawasaki disease symptoms vary by phase of the condition. There are three phases with a range of progressively worse symptoms that peak before slowly subsiding. The most common first symptom is a high fever. Another common symptom is a rash, often referred to Kawasaki disease rash.

Other common signs of Kawasaki disease:

  • Rash
  • Swollen hands
  • Redness on soles of feet
  • Extreme irritability
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Swollen neck
  • Tender neck
  • Skin peeling on fingers
  • Swollen feet
  • Red palms
  • Skin peeling on toes

First phase:

  • High fever
  • Cracked lips
  • Very red eyes
  • Rash on or near genitals
  • Rash on body
  • Fussiness
  • Red, swollen tongue
  • Swollen and red palms
  • Swollen and red soles of the feet
  • Swollen neck

Second phase:

  • Skin peeling
  • Pain in joints
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Third phase:

  • Symptoms slowly subside.
  • Energy levels slowly return.
  • Complications may arise.


There are no known Kawasaki disease causes. Doctors theorize that environmental factors such as bacteria might precede the condition. Researchers believe that the condition is non-contagious, although specific genetic patterns might raise the risk of developing the disease.


Risk factors include:

  • Age—Young children age 5 or under are at highest risk.
  • Gender—More boys than girls develop Kawasaki disease.
  • Ethnicity—Kawasaki disease is more prevalent in Asian and Pacific Islander children. However, anyone can develop the condition.


Doctors diagnose Kawasaki disease by discussing and examining your symptoms. Kawasaki disease shares similar symptoms with other illnesses common in children.

To diagnose the condition, your doctor will likely perform a few tests and may recommended that you see a pediatrician. Your doctor may collect and test blood and urine samples. High levels of white blood cells indicate possible Kawasaki disease.

In addition, your doctor might also examine your heart using an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram. Both tests check the proper functioning of your heart.

When to See a Doctor

Please see your child’s pediatrician if your child experiences a fever that lasts longer than three days. We recommend that you also see a pediatrician if your child displays a fever along with other symptoms of Kawasaki disease. Treating the condition in the first 10 days reduces the risk of long-term harm.

Treatment & Recovery

Kawasaki disease treatment typically includes high-dose aspirin and immune globulin. Many children improve after a single treatment.

Treatment includes:

  • High-dose aspirin—Aspirin reduces inflammation.
  • Immune globulin—Doctors administer an intravenous (IV) dose of immune globulin (IVIG) to prevent infection. This treatment also reduces the likelihood of coronary artery aneurysms. If this treatment does not work, your doctor may administer steroids.


Some patients experience complications with Kawasaki disease. Complications might include heart valve issues, heart muscle inflammation, inflamed blood vessels, blot clots, and—in more severe cases—internal bleeding and heart attacks. Very rarely, Kawasaki disease can result in life-threatening coronary artery complications despite treatment.

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