A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Kawasaki disease: What you need to know

Girl with a fever in bed - What is Kawasaki disease?

One of the symptoms of Kawasaki disease is having a prolonged fever greater than five days.

Kawasaki disease is an illness that affects kids and is one of the leading causes of acquired heart disease in children.

“It can be a challenging diagnosis, since it doesn’t have a specific test for it,” said Dr. Richard Willes, pediatric cardiologist with Marshfield Clinic Health System. “It can be overlooked because it can be mistaken for a virus or other infection.”

Kawasaki disease affects the medium sized blood vessels in a child’s body. These blood vessels actually become inflamed. It affects the blood vessels in the eyes or mouth, but can affect other blood vessels including the coronary arteries that lead to the heart.


Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include:

  • Prolonged fever greater than five days
  • Peeling skin on lips, hands or feet
  • Bright red inflamed tongue
  • Large lymph nodes
  • Developing a rash
  • Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) without much discharge

Diagnosis and treatment

If a doctor suspects Kawasaki disease, lab work can be completed to diagnose the disease.

It can lead to increased risk of heart attacks, myocarditis and coronary artery disease.

Intravenous immunoglobulin and oral aspirin is the standard treatment for the disease.

Additional follow-up with a pediatric cardiologist for a few months may be needed to make sure the heart was not affected.

While we know a lot about Kawasaki disease, there is no known cause for it. We do know, however, that the symptoms arise from an auto-immune process,” Willes said.

For more information about Kawasaki disease, please talk to your child’s doctor.

  1. Feb 8, 2019
    • Feb 11, 2019

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