What is KD?
This image describes the initial reaction of parents when told their child may have KD.
(Image sourced from U.S. KD Foundation)
KD was first documented in Japan in 1967 by Dr Tomisaku Kawasaki. He was the first to recognise that the symptoms (what a child feels) and the signs (what we see) were a new disease. It is found Worldwide in all ethnic groups and the incidents is increasing in some countries.
Kawasaki Disease (KD) is an illness that primarily affects young children. It is characterized by an inflammation of the arteries throughout the body.
About two thirds of patients are under five years old, but it can affect older children, babies and teenagers, as well. KD is more common in boys than girls, and the majority of cases are diagnosed in the winter and early spring. It is not contagious.
8TH INTERNATIONAL KAWASAKI DISEASE SYMPOSIUM
San Diego 17-20th Feb 2005
L-R - Miranda, Dr. Kawasaki and Dr. Burgner
Early symptoms of KD include:
- Fever that can lasts for several days
- Rash, can be over whole body and may be worse in the groin area Click here to see some examples
- Red eyes - no discharge
- Bright red, swollen, cracked lips
- Red tongue (strawberry like)
- Swollen hands and feet
- Redness of the palms and soles of the feet
- Swollen lymph node in the neck
Understandably, children with these symptoms are extremely uncomfortable and irritable. Any parent whose child has persistent fever and any of these symptoms should take him or her to the doctor immediately.
During the first and second week of illness, other symptoms may appear. A telltale sign of KD is that skin on the fingertips and toes starts to peel. Children may also develop transient joint pain throughout the body.
Without treatment, about 25% of children develop changes to the coronary arteries. Timely diagnosis and treatment (which usually includes intravenous gamma globulin) is usually effective in preventing coronary artery complications. Doctors continue to study the long-term outcome of children who do not appear to have coronary involvement. Other longer-term consequences (e.g., non-coronary) are rare. There is no evidence that links KD with autism or a seizure disorder. A very small number of KD children might have a seizure in the early acute stage of KD when there are very high fevers, but there is no on-going or long term seizure prone condition.
In the early stage of KD, called the acute phase, a child often looks and feels so ill that it can be frightening for parents and loved ones. It is important to remember that although your child may have severe symptoms, in most cases, following treatment, he or she will make a complete recovery and resume normal activities within four to eight weeks. Children in whom heart problems have been detected will need to be closely monitored by a cardiologist. They may need longer term treatment.
Naturally your child will be tired and you may notice a change in his/her personality or sleep patterns but it is also important to remember that children are resilient. Most behavioural changes are minor and return to normal after a few weeks.
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