What is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki Disease is an acute illness usually seen in children, most commonly under 8 years of age.  It is an inflammatory process that affects almost every system in the body.

Dr Tomisaku Kawasaki of Tokyo, Japan, first described the signs (what we can see) and the symptoms (what the child feels) associated with Kawasaki Disease in 1967.  Since then it has been seen in virtually every country in the world.

Many parents find it difficult that there is no diagnostic test for Kawasaki Disease.  The diagnosis is based on the following criteria:

Temperature of 5 days or more plus 2 (or more) of the following:

  • Red eyes (not sticky)
  • Sore mouth, cracked red lips, red tongue (often strawberry like)
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen glands in the neck (or sometimes stomach)
  • Changes to the fingers and toes often with redness

Though not a symptom for the purposes of a timely diagnosis during the acute stage of Kawasaki Disease,  peeling of the skin may occur between 14 to 21 days after the start of the fever. This only affects about half of the children who have Kawasaki Disease and parents may notice this in their children later. It may also be noticed in children where a diagnosis has only been able to be made later.

Most of these symptoms occur in the first few days of the illness, although they may not all be present initially.  There are also other typical features we see, which are those of irritability, loss of appetite, moodiness, diarrhoea, tummy ache, vomiting and jaundice.

Who are the Kawasaki Support Group?

The group was established in June 1994 by three mothers of children with Kawasaki Disease. It is still run by two of them, Sue Davidson & Nicky Clements.

We have support from the medical profession and have set up a telephone help line giving parents information and understanding. We are trying to raise awareness of both the illness and ourselves. We currently have over 1500 families in the group and it is expanding.

Helping with research and gathering information about the illness and the children affected is very important to us. We collate the information about the children, their families and their illness using a questionnaire for parents. No personal information is used but the statistics we gather aid in research.

We raise funds to help the running costs to be met.

Find out more about us »