Raising awareness of Kawasaki Disease

Lachen, Switzerland
Corporate news

January 26 is International Kawasaki Disease Awareness Day. Raising awareness is crucial as diagnosing and treating patients as soon as possible improves their chances of recovery and reduces the risk of serious heart damage.1

A severe condition primarily affecting infants and young children

Kawasaki Disease (KD) was first described in Japan by Tomisaku Kawasaki in 1967, while the first cases outside Japan were reported in Hawaii in 1976. Although it is more prevalent among children of Asian and Pacific Island descent, KD affects people of all racial and ethnic groups.2

Also known as Kawasaki Syndrome, KD is a severe condition that causes characteristic inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body. Infants and young children are most affected, though older children have also been diagnosed with KD.2,3 The average age of patients is two years, with about 77% being younger than five years, and with boys being 1.5 times more likely than girls to et KD.2

KD is not contagious but what causes it remains unknown. Without early treatment, patients with KD have a 25% risk of damage to their cortinary arteries and heart muscles - hence importance of early diagnosis.7

Kawasaki Disease signs and symptoms

In most cases, the following six classical symptoms are observed. Rarely, patients show only some of these symptoms, which is called "incomplete KD".

Fever of at least 100.4°F (39°C) for at least five days (key symptom)

Rash over extremities and torso

Red eyes

Swollen neck gland(s)

Swollen red hands and feet

Swollen red tongue and mouth1,2,3

How is Kawasaki disease treated?

Children with KD are treated in hospital, primarily with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) and aspirin, with the aim of reducing fever and preventing heart damage including coronary artery aneurysms.1

The IVIg infusions replace missing or defective antibodies - proteins which the immune system produces to fight disease-carrying organisms and has many potential immunomodulatory mechanisms. Research has shown that IVIg can reduce fever and the risk of heart problems. Most children make full recovery while more complex cases require a long-term follow-up.1,2,3

Kawasaki Disease misdiagnosis

KD was considered the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children for many years. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new syndrome appeared: multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

At the same time, there was a decrease in the incidence of KD, possibly due to strategies to combat the pandemic, such as masking, social distancing and lock-downs. Some of this decrease may be related to the misclassification of KD patients as having MIS-C, or it could be due to reduced exposure to possible infectious/environmental triggers.

Given the clinical overlap, there is growing interest in the immunological mechanisms underlying both diseases, as insights into one condition may shed light on the diagnosis, treatment and long-term management of the other.8


1. Kawasaki Disease-Management Strategies Given Symptoms Overlap to COVID-19: A Review - PMC (nih.gov)

2. Kawasaki Disease: an Update (nih.gov)

3. Kawasaki disease - Kawasaki - 2014 - International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases - Wiley Online Library

4. What Is Kawasaki Disease? | Kawasaki Disease Foundation (kdfoundation.org)

5. Kawasaki Disease - Societi


7. Kawasaki Disease - Professional Heart Daily | American Heart Association

8.Kawasaki Disease and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children - PMC (nih.gov)