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A to Z: Kawasaki Disease

A to Z: Kawasaki Disease

May also be called: Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome; MCLS

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 is a rare condition that affects about 19 out of every 100,000 kids in the United States. It’s most common among children of Japanese and Korean descent, but can affect all ethnic groups. It’s also more common in boys than girls.

The first phase of symptoms, which can last for up to 2 weeks, usually involves a fever. Other early symptoms include redness in the eyes, skin rash, cracked lips, swollen tongue, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and swollen palms and soles of the feet. Later symptoms include joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and peeling of the skin on the hands and feet.

Doctors can manage the symptoms of Kawasaki disease if they catch it early. 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.

Treatment usually involves intravenous (IV) doses of gamma globulin (purified antibodies). High doses of aspirin may also be given 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.