Frequently Asked Questions About Kawasaki Disease

Frequently Asked Questions About Kawasaki Disease

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  • Scientists do not believe Kawasaki disease to be contagious
  • The cause of Kawasaki disease is still unknown. However, experts speculate that a mixture of genetics and environmental factors can cause the disease
  • If the symptoms are diagnosed and treated right away, most children who have Kawasaki disease can recover within weeks. However, some patients may develop complications in their cardiovascular system, such as weakening of the arterial walls

Q: What are the symptoms of Kawasaki disease?

A: Kawasaki disease is a condition that causes high fever that may last for more than three days, and comes with other symptoms such as:1

Eye inflammation that reddens the white of the eyes without pus

Redness or swelling of the feet or hands. In some cases, generalized skin peeling occurs instead

Rashes

Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck

Cracked, inflamed lips or throat. Red “strawberry” tongue may occur in other instances

As the disease goes on, you may develop additional problems such as joint and abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.2

Q: Is Kawasaki disease contagious?

A: While scientists still do not know what causes Kawasaki disease, they do not believe it to be contagious.3

Q: How do you get Kawasaki disease?

A: The cause of Kawasaki disease is still unknown. However, experts speculate that a mixture of genetics and environmental factors (possibly a virus or bacteria) can trigger the disease, particularly if you're of Asian descent.4 In addition, certain risk factors are involved, such as:5

Age — Children between the ages of 1 and 5 are primarily affected by Kawasaki disease.

Gender — Boys are more likely to develop Kawasaki disease than girls.

Genetics — If the parents had Kawasaki disease, there’s a chance that their children may have it as well.

Environment — From January to March, the rate for Kawasaki disease is 40 percent higher compared to August to October for people living in the northern hemisphere.

Ethnicity — Children of all races, ages and genders can be affected with Kawasaki disease. However, it is observed to be higher among those of Asian and Pacific Island descent.6

Q: Where did the name “Kawasaki disease” come from?

A: Kawasaki disease was named after Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki, a Japanese pediatrician who first recorded the symptoms in a 4-year-old boy in 1961. During the succeeding years, he observed the disease appearing in more children. He published research that garnered him attention in the medical community; thus the illness was named after him. According to Kawasaki, over 6,000 research papers have been written about the subject, but nobody still knows the cause.7

Q: Is Kawasaki disease deadly?

A: If the symptoms are diagnosed and treated right away, most children who have Kawasaki disease can recover within weeks.8 However, some patients may develop complications in their cardiovascular system, such as weakening of the arterial walls. This increases their risk of forming a blood clot (thrombosis). As a result, it may lead to:

Heart attack — A condition wherein a part of the heart dies to lack of oxygen.

Heart disease — A cardiovascular problem wherein the heart’s blood supply is suddenly blocked or interrupted.

Internal bleeding — An aneurysm (a bulge in a blood vessel) can rupture, causing severe internal bleeding.

There’s also a possibility that other major blood vessels can become affected, such as the brachial and femoral arteries. A thorough screening will need to be performed to monitor which pathways will require appropriate treatment.

Q: How is Kawasaki disease transmitted?

A: The disease is not contagious and does not spread by person-to-person contact.9 However, recent research indicates that children who consume high amounts of soy such as that derived from soy milk or other soy products such as tofu and edamame, are significantly more at risk for getting Kawasaki disease.10

MORE ABOUT KAWASAKI DISEASE

Kawasaki Disease: Introduction

What Is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki Disease Symptoms

Kawasaki Disease Treatment

Kawasaki Disease Prevention

Kawasaki Disease Diet

Kawasaki Disease FAQ

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