Kawasaki disease, characterized by blood vessel inflammation throughout the body, affects children almost exclusively; most patients are under 5 years of age. For reasons still unknown, males acquire the illness almost twice as often as females.
Symptoms include fever, rash, swelling of the hands and feet, irritation and reddening of the eyes, irritation and inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth, lips, and throat, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
The disease is treated with a high dose of gamma globulin (a protein fraction of human blood), administered intravenously. This treatment is most effective in reducing inflammation and preventing coronary artery damage if started within the first 10 days of illness. High doses of aspirin are also given with gamma globulin during the acute phase of the illness until the fever subsides.
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