Doctors can treat the symptoms of Kawasaki disease when it's caught early. Most kids will feel better within a few days of starting treatment.
If the condition isn't found until later, patients can have serious complications that affect the heart, such as:
an aneurysm (a bulge in the wall) of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart
inflammation of the heart muscle, lining, valves, and the outer membrane around the heart
arrhythmias, which are changes in the normal pattern of the heartbeat
problems with some heart valves
What Causes Kawasaki Disease?
Doctors don't know what causes Kawasaki disease. They believe it doesn't spread from person to person. It's most common among children of Japanese and Korean descent, but can affect any child.
How Is Kawasaki Disease Diagnosed?
Kawasaki disease symptoms can look similar to those of other childhood viral and bacterial illnesses. Doctors usually diagnose it by asking about the symptoms (such as a long-lasting fever) and doing an exam.
Doctors usually treat kids with Kawasaki disease by giving them:
intravenous (IV) dose of immune globulin (IVIG): These antibodies (proteins) help fight infections. IVIG treatment also lowers the risk of coronary artery aneurysms. IVIG is given once.
high-dose aspirin given by mouth to treat inflammation. Patients take aspirin until blood tests show that the inflammation has improved.
Treatment begins as soon as possible. In some children, IVIG may not work and doctors give steroids instead. Steroids can help prevent coronary aneurysms.
It's very important for children on high-dose aspirin to get the annual flu vaccine to help prevent this viral illness. That's because there's a small risk of a rare condition called Reye syndrome in children who take aspirin during a viral illness.
Most children with Kawasaki disease start to get much better after a single treatment with immune globulin, though sometimes more doses are needed.
What Else Should I Know?
Most kids with Kawasaki disease recover completely, especially when they are diagnosed and treated early. Some, especially those who develop heart problems from Kawasaki disease, might need more testing and to see a (a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the heart).