Kawasaki disease is a sudden and time-limited (acute) illness that affects infants and young children. Affected children develop a prolonged fever lasting several days, a skin rash, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck (cervical lymphadenopathy). They also develop redness in the whites of the eyes (conjunctivitis) and redness (erythema) of the lips, lining of the mouth (oral mucosa), tongue, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet.
The causes of Kawasaki disease are not well understood. The disorder is generally regarded as being the result of an abnormal immune system activation, but the triggers of this abnormal response are unknown. Because cases of the disorder tend to cluster geographically and by season, researchers have suggested that an infection may be involved. However, no infectious agent (such as a virus or bacteria) has been identified.
In the United States and other Western countries, Kawasaki disease occurs in approximately 1 in 10,000 children under 5 each year. The condition is 10 to 20 times more common in East Asia, including Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
A predisposition to Kawasaki disease appears to be passed through generations in families, but the inheritance pattern is unknown. Children of parents who have had Kawasaki disease have twice the risk of developing the disorder compared to the general population. Children with affected siblings have a tenfold higher risk.
Published Date: September 01, 2015Published By: National Institutes of Health