If recognized and treated early, your child can begin to feel better in a few days, with a low likelihood of long-term heart issues. Children who receive treatment within the first ten days of illness have a less than 4 percent risk of coronary artery damage.
If your child has been diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, your understanding of the condition will help you and your family to cope with this illness.
Kawasaki disease (mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome) is an acute systemic illness characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis). It begins with the onset of a high fever for at least four days, along with other signs and symptoms that develop over the course of approximately one to two weeks.
- Inflammation from Kawasaki disease affects the blood vessels of many tissues in the body—including the hands, feet, whites of the eyes, mouth, lips, throat, lymph nodes and skin. The illness lasts for six to eight weeks, and more commonly affects children under age 5 years (75 percent). Boys are 1.5 times as likely to develop Kawasaki disease as girls.
- Without treatment, approximately 20 percent of patients develop damage to their coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen), resulting in those vessels’ enlargement (dilation or aneurysm formation).
- If recognized and treated early, your child can begin to feel better in a few days, with a low likelihood of long-term heart issues. Children who receive treatment within the first ten days of illness have a less than 4 percent risk of coronary artery damage.
- Because symptoms often resemble those of other childhood diseases and there’s no definitive test available, the diagnosis of Kawasaki disease is made by an experienced clinician on the basis of clinical symptoms and laboratory findings.
How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches Kawasaki disease
The experienced team members of Boston Children’s Hospital Kawasaki Disease Program provide coordinated care for children with Kawasaki disease—both during the illness’s acute phase and in short- and long-term follow up.
Each year, our multidisciplinary program—staffed by expert cardiologists, rheumatologists and a pediatric nurse practitioner—treats more than 65 new patients who have confirmed or suspected Kawasaki disease. We follow more than 1,500 children and young adults who’ve had Kawasaki disease in the program’s outpatient Heart Care Center.
The Kawasaki Disease Program at Boston Children’s serves as a national and international resource for parents and physicians. We provide families with a wealth of information, and support—and we help pediatricians and other specialists to confirm and treat this hard-to-diagnose illness.
A member of Boston Children’s Kawasaki Disease Program is on call for you and your pediatrician 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help make a diagnosis, provide appropriate treatment, and offer support for your family. With our compassionate, family-centered approach, you and your child are in the best possible hands.
Kawasaki disease: Reviewed by Jane Newburger, MD
© Boston Children’s Hospital, 2011