Go back to the Societi website

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 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 two or more 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 symptoms which can occur including irritability (children with Kawasaki Disease are characteristically irritable!) loss of appetite, moodiness, diarrhoea, tummy ache, vomiting and jaundice.

Later, at between 14 and 21 days after the start of the fever, skin peeling on fingers and toes can occur but this only happens to about half of the children affected by Kawasaki Disease. This is NOT an acute stage symptom and the absence of skin peeling should NEVER be a reason to dismiss a diagnosis of Kawasaki Disease. If skin peeling happens, it will only happen much later.

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 and information from blood tests.