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A to Z: Kawasaki Disease

May also be called: Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome; MCLS; KD

Kawasaki disease is an illness that involves the skin, mouth, and lymph nodes, and most often affects kids under age 5.

More to Know

Kawasaki (kow-uh-SAH-kee) disease (KD) is most most common among children of Japanese and Korean descent, but can affect all ethnic groups. 

The first phase of symptoms, which can last for up to 2 weeks, usually involves a high fever over 104°F that lasts for at least 5 days. A child with KD may also have severe redness in the eyes, skin rash, cracked lips, swollen tongue, sore throat, swollen neck lymph nodes, and swollen palms and soles of the feet. During the second phase, skin on the hands and feet may begin to peel, even in children who have already been treated. Kids may also have joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

It’s important to diagnose Kawasaki disease early, so if a child has fever for 5 days or more and any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away. Untreated cases can lead to more serious problems, such as vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels. Vasculitis of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart, can contribute to heart disease.

Initial treatment usually involves a combination of high doses of intravenous (IV) doses of gamma globulin (purified antibodies) and aspirin to reduce the risk of heart problems.

Keep in Mind

Kawasaki disease can be serious, so see a doctor about a fever combined with other symptoms of the disease. If treatment is started early, kids with Kawasaki disease can fully recover within a few days.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.