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Kawasakis Disease - Symptoms and Treatment
Kawasaki disease is a rare condition in children that involves inflammation of the blood vessels. It mainly affects infants and toddlers. An estimated 1 in 25,000 children under five develop the disease. Kawasaki disease was first observed in Japan but it occurs worldwide. It can damage arteries throughout the body, but the coronary arteries are the most vulnerable. Recent studies suggest that the condition is under-diagnosed in the United Kingdom.
Symptoms may include red eyes without discharge, red swollen lips; rash; swollen and red hands and feet; and swollen lymph nodes. The disorder affects the mucus membranes, lymph nodes, walls of the blood vessels, and the heart. The most important aspect of the disease is the heart's involvement. The disease can cause inflammation of blood vessels in the coronary arteries, which can lead to aneurysms. Kawasaki disease is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children.
Kawasaki disease is an uncommon (only about 3000 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year) inflammatory condition that usually (80% of the time) afflicts children younger than 5 years of age, and most commonly presents between the ages of one and two years. Its cause at this time is unknown, but it is presumed to be due to the body's response to a type of infection.
The diagnosis is based on the presence of six clinical findings discussed below and at times can be very difficult to make, unless most or all of these findings are present. The importance of making an early diagnosis (between 5-10 days from onset of fever) is to prevent later complications that may involve the arteries of the heart. Heart disease is the most serious sequelum of Kawasaki disease and causes aneurysms (bulging) in the small arteries around the heart, usually several weeks after the onset of fever.
Causes of Kawasakis Disease
It is not clear what causes Kawasaki disease. Scientists believe a virus may be responsible, but current research is still underway. Kawasaki disease does not appear to be contagious, nor does it appear to be hereditary. It was once thought that Kawasaki disease was linked to recent rug or carpet cleaning; however, no studies have shown this to be a cause of the disease. It is rare for more than one child in a family to develop the disease. As a result, less than 2 percent of persons with Kawasaki disease develop the disease more than once.
Signs and Symptoms of Kawasakis Disease
Sign and symptoms may include the following :
Treatment for Kawasakis Disease
Treatment consists of aspirin therapy and intravenous immunoglobulin therapy . Up to 80 percent of children treated with intravenous immunoglobulins show a good response to therapy. Of the children who do not respond to this therapy, the addition of corticosteroids does not cause improvement.
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