Kawasaki Disease is an illness that usually affects children less than 4 years old, though older children may get it too.
There is usually inflammation of the small and medium sized blood vessels in the body and presents with the following features:
Nobody knows what causes Kawasaki Disease. But doctors believe that it could be due to over-reaction of the body to an infection by a virus or bacteria. There is nothing much that parents can do to prevent their children from getting Kawasaki Disease.
There is no special test that can diagnose Kawasaki Disease. Your doctor will examine your child and make a diagnosis based on your child's signs and symptoms.
Yes. Even though there are no tests that will diagnose Kawasaki Disease, your doctor will still need to make sure that there is no other disease that could be causing the signs and symptoms.
Kawasaki Disease is not known to spread among children through close contact.
Most children with Kawasaki Disease recover well with no problems. However, 5 - 20% of children may develop heart problems. Early treatment will reduce the risk of heart complications.
If your child develops heart problems, he may be placed on long-term medication and will require regular follow up with your doctor.
Kawasaki Disease also results in high platelet counts, which makes it easier for the blood to form clots. However, with treatment, this does not usually result in any serious problems.
Your child may be given high doses of aspirin to lower the fever. Aspirin will also help with the rash and prevent your child's blood from clotting too easily. The dose of aspirin will be reduced after the fever comes down and may be continued for several weeks to reduce the risk of heart problems.
Your child may also be given a special medicine derived from blood called immunoglobulin or IVIG, which will help reduce the risk of developing heart problems.
IVIG can only be given in the hospital and will be given over several hours through your child's veins. There may be some redness, swelling or infection developing at the drip site. The doctors and nurses will check the drip site regularly to monitor for these complications.
All forms of medical therapy are associated with a certain degree of risk. In the treatment of Kawasaki Disease, patients may develop adverse or allergic reactions to aspirin and IVIG.
The most common reactions include chills, fever, itch and rash. Your child will be monitored very closely during treatment and doctors and nurses will be on the lookout for any abnormal signs and symptoms. Should an adverse reaction occur, treatment will be stopped or given at a slower rate, depending on the doctor's assessment.
Your child will have to stay in hospital till there is no fever for at least 24 hours. Most children stay between 3 - 7 days. After discharge from hospital, your child may still feel a little weak and may need to stay at home for about a week before he is fit to go back to school.
If your child has been treated with IVIG, then your child's measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and varicella-zoster (chicken pox) vaccinations will have to be delayed till 11 months after the IVIG was administered. The schedule for all other vaccinations is not interrupted.
If your child gets the flu or chicken pox while he is on aspirin, please see your family doctor or paediatrician and let them know that your child is on aspirin for Kawasaki Disease.
Your child will be given an appointment for review about 1 - 2 weeks after discharge. Your child will also have to come back 2 weeks after the start of the illness for a heart scan (2-D echocardiography). The heart scan will be repeated in about 3 months.
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