Symptoms and causes

Kawasaki disease symptoms usually appear in three phases.

No one knows what causes Kawasaki disease, but scientists don't believe the disease is contagious from person to person. A number of theories link the disease to bacteria, viruses or other environmental factors, but none has been proved. Certain genes may increase your child's susceptibility to Kawasaki disease.

Three things are known to increase your child's risk of developing Kawasaki disease, including:

  • Age. Children under 5 years old are most at risk of Kawasaki disease.
  • Sex. Boys are slightly more likely than girls are to develop Kawasaki disease.
  • Ethnicity. Children of Asian or Pacific Island descent, such as Japanese or Korean, have higher rates of Kawasaki disease.

Kawasaki disease is a leading cause of acquired heart disease in children, but with effective treatment, only a small percentage of children have lasting damage.

Heart complications include:

  • Inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis), usually the coronary arteries, that supply blood to the heart
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
  • Heart valve problems

Any of these complications can damage your child's heart. Inflammation of the coronary arteries can lead to weakening and bulging of the artery wall (aneurysm). Aneurysms increase the risk of blood clots forming and blocking the artery, which could lead to a heart attack or cause life-threatening internal bleeding.

For a very small percentage of children who develop coronary artery problems, Kawasaki disease is fatal, even with treatment.

Oct. 27, 2016
References
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