What is Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease is the most common form of vasculitis that primarily affects children. The disease produces irritation and inflammation of many tissues of the body, including the hands, feet, whites of the eyes, mouth, lips, and throat. High fever and swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck also are characteristic of this illness. While most children completely recover, the main threat from Kawasaki disease comes from its effect on the heart and blood vessels. Heart-related complications can be seen as early as two weeks after onset of the disease and can be temporary or may affect the child long-term. The heart, particularly the coronary arteries, is affected in as many as one of five children who develop Kawasaki disease. Infants less than one year of age are usually the most seriously ill and are at the greatest risk for cardiac involvement. The risk of developing coronary artery disease later in life is not yet known.

Another name for Kawasaki disease is mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome