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What is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki Disease is a type of inflammation. It mainly affects young children but it can affect people of any age.  Kawasaki Disease has a range of symptoms including a characteristic and distinctively persistent high fever for five days or more, rash, bloodshot eyes, “strawberry” tongue, cracked, dry lips, redness of the fingers and toes (sometimes skin peeling after ten days or more) and swollen glands in the neck – often just on one side.

Kawasaki Disease can be present with some (incomplete Kawasaki Disease) or all (complete Kawasaki Disease) of these symptoms. If a child has a persistent fever with any of these symptoms, please THINK Kawasaki Disease.

Most of these symptoms occur in the first few days of the illness, although they are often not all  present at the same time. There are also other typical features we see which are those of irritability (children with Kawasaki Disease are characteristically irritable!) loss of appetite, moodiness, diarrhoea, tummy ache, vomiting and jaundice.

Many parents find it difficult that there is no diagnostic test for Kawasaki Disease. In the future it is likely that there will be a test to aid diagnosis but currently, the diagnosis is based on presence of the above symptoms.