KawasakiDisease

Fever might be very common in young kids and infants. Parents usually do not consider fever as a major symptom of some other medical complications. Parents should know that if their kid is running with fever for more than 4 days, it is of course a reason to worry, and should take the kid immediately to a pediatrician.

One of the reasons that the physician might predict as the cause for fever along with skin rashes and dry lips in young infants is a disease called as Kawasaki disease, named after the physician who first discovered it.

For many, the name itself might be very new and those who have heard it already might know very little about it. Parents should know about this dreadful disease because if left unattended, Kawasaki disease can result in very serious complications, sometimes threatening the life of the baby.

Understanding Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki disease (KD) is a rare disease that affects children who are below the age of 5 years. Kawasaki disease is characterized by the inflammation of the blood vessels (arteries, veins, and blood capillaries) throughout the body; particularly, it results in inflammation of blood vessels surrounding the heart.

It is an illness that also affects the skin, mouth, and lymph nodes. KD is the major cause of acquired heart disease in children.

Majority of the kids are diagnosed with KD in the winter and in early spring season. The prevalence of KD is estimated to be 19 cases in 100,000 kids, it is commonly found affecting boys than girls. KD is also called as Mucocutaneous Lymph node syndrome.

Causes

The exact cause of KD is yet to be unleashed. But few researchers/doctors suggest that KD might be caused by some bacterial or viral infection. The disease usually lasts for 2 weeks to few months.

It is also said that genetic disposition can also cause KD; individuals from Japanese descent are more likely to get the disease, no matter where they are now on the globe.

Already existing history of KD in a family, increases the risk of KD in the next kid. And few say that KD might be an autoimmune disease, where one’s own immune system acts against own mucus membrane, lymph node, heart, and walls of blood vessels.

People who fall under risk category for KD are kids below 5 years of age, male sex, and Asians, especially Japanese are affected more than other races.

Symptoms

Kawasaki disease symptoms are as follows:

  • Swollen blood vessels all over the body

  • Persistent fever for more than 5 days

  • Redness of the eyes

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

  • The disease may also manifest as rashes that develop on stomach chest, and genitals

  • Red, dry, and cracked lips

  • Sore throat

  • Swollen tongue, white coating and red bumps on it

  • Swelling may also be present in the palm and sole, and they appear purple red in color

Other symptoms are:

  • Joint pain

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

Risk factors

Certain sexual behaviors may increase your risk of epididymitis which includes sexual contact with a partner who has sexually transmissible infections (STIs), and a medical history of STIs. The other risk factors of epididymitis include:

  • History of prostate or urinary tract infections

  • History of genital-urinary surgeries

  • Uncircumcised penis

  • Prostate enlargement

  • Use of urinary catheter

  • Having unprotected sex

Complications

KD is usually treated, if doctors are successful at diagnosing it at the earliest. But few kids who go unattended have to face complications like

  • Vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels all over the body. This can result in serious consequences when the coronary artery (artery that supplies blood to heart) is affected

  • Inflammation can result in aneurysms (abnormal ballooning of artery due to weak blood vessel walls)

  • Inflammation of the muscle, valve, inner lining, and outer lining of the heart that can cause Arrhythmias, a condition of abnormal heart beat

  • Abnormal functioning of heart valves

  • Dehydration

  • Limited movement of joints due to untreated inflammation

There is no specific test to diagnose KD, therefore diagnosis starts with evaluating the symptoms of the kid and questioning parents about the symptoms and the duration of its presence.

Doctors usually check for the above listed symptoms in kids. Sometime, he also performs other tests to check the function of heart, tests include

  • Electrocardiogram: Done to check irregular heart beat

  • Echocardiogram: Done to check the heart structure, valve function, heart muscle motion, and size of heart and coronary artery

  • A nuclear stress test: Done to check the flow of blood in the arteries, which is tracked by injecting a radioactive substance into the blood stream

  • Urine test: To rule out other diseases

  • Blood test: An elevated white blood cells and anemia indicates KD

KD is usually a self limiting disease that gets resolved on its own, and many kids do not require any treatment within 4-8 weeks. But 15-20% of kids will suffer some damage to the coronary artery (artery to heart) and in 2% it might result in death due to heart attack. Treatment in these kids should be done as early as possible.

High dosage of aspirin can help decrease aneurysm, fever, joint pain and swelling; and rashes. Aspirin also helps in thinning of blood thereby preventing formation of blood clots.

An intravenous injection of gamma globulin can prevent the damage happening to coronary arteries. In severe case of coronary artery damage, a surgery may be required to correct the problem.

Children who are diagnosed with no damage to coronary, require no treatment but it is advised that parents should take their kid to a pediatric cardiologist for at least 1 year.

Kids with mild coronary artery damage should visit the doctor regularly for 1 year and later once every 3-5 years according to doctor’s advice.

Children with severe coronary artery damage should have regular check up and follow medications properly.

KD cannot be prevented as the cause of the disease is still unknown. However, after treatment kids usually recover fully within 24 hours or few days of treatment. But it is always good to make children take complete rest until they feel strong enough to return to school. Complications after treatment are usually rare.