Kawasaki Disease

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Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki disease is the most common form of “vasculitis” that primarily affects children.Vasculitis (plural: vasculitides), is a group of diseases featuring inflammation of the wall of blood vessels including veins (phlebitis) arteries (arteritis) and capillaries due to leukocyte migration and resultant damage. Kawasaki disease produces irritation and inflammation of many tissues of the body, including the hands, feet, whites of the eyes, mouth, lips, and throat. Characteristics of this illness are high fever and swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck.

Kawasaki disease occurs more often in Japan than in any other country. In the US , children of Asian or Asian American heritage are affected more often than other races, although Kawasaki disease can occur in any racial or ethnic group. The average age child seen with the illness is 2 years old and it occurs in boys twice as often as in girls.

According to the American Heart Association, the illness is a major cause of heart disease in children. In most cases, the effects on the heart caused by Kawasaki disease are temporary, and resolve within five or six weeks. About 4,000 children are diagnosed in the US each year. Kawasaki disease, together with acute rheumatic fever, is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children in the US and Japan .

It is not clear what causes Kawasaki disease. Scientists believe a virus may be responsible, but current research is still underway. Kawasaki disease does not appear to be contagious nor hereditary. It is rare for more than one child in a family to develop the disease. As a result, less than 2 percent of persons with Kawasaki disease develop the disease more than once.

The most common symptoms of Kawasaki disease are listed below. Each child may experience symptoms differently.

moderate to high fever (101° F to 104° F) that rises and falls for up to three weeks irritability
swollen lymph glands...
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