About This Disease
Kawasaki syndrome (KS) is an acute febrile illness that primarily affects children younger than 5 years of age, and most commonly in children of Japanese or Korean descent.
Signs and Symptoms
Kawasaki syndrome typically occurs in three phases.
Phase 1 (acute): Most patients develop high, spiking fever for about 10 days with four or more of the following symptoms: body rash, conjunctivitis, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes mostly in the neck, reddish discolorations on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, and red, dry, cracked lips and extremely red swollen tongue (strawberry tongue). This phase is the most intense and symptoms can be the most severe.
Phase 2 (subacute phase): This phase begins as the fever and rash subsides with the tips of the fingers and toes begin to peel often. Patients may also develop joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain. This phase usually lasts about 2 weeks.
Phase 3 (convalescent phase): Clinical symptoms gradually fade. “Although KS is primarily self-limiting, the disease causes significant morbidity in most patients and can result in a range of cardiac and non-cardiac complications. Coronary artery abnormalities (CAA) can occur in more than 20% of untreated KS patients.”1 For a small percentage of children who develop heart problems, KS is fatal even with treatment.
No one knows what causes Kawasaki Syndrome or how it’s spread. It doesn’t appear to be hereditary or contagious.
There is no firm evidence for person-to-person spread, although outbreaks of Kawasaki syndrome are consistent with an infectious etiology.
There is no specific diagnostic tests for Kawasaki Syndrome. Diagnosis is based on clinical history and physical findings.
Early diagnosis and treatment decreases the development of complications. The standard treatment is intravenous immunoglobulin and aspirin.
Risk in Hawaii
Fever than 20,000 cases occur in the United States per year.
There are no known measures that will prevent this illness.
Information for Clinicians
Last Reviewed: May 2023