Kawasaki Disease

By Tiffany Blackmon - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – If your child is running a persistent high fever, the illness could be more serious than you think.

Though rare, that illness could be Kawasaki disease. It occurs in 19 out of every 100,000 kids in the United States. Every year Lake Charles Memorial Hospital treats about four or five cases from the five parish area.

Dr. Jamal Saqer, a Pediatric Intensive Care Specialist at Memorial Hospital stated, "There is no specific cause known to us right now. It is thought of as probably an autoimmune phenomenon."

Kawasaki disease involves the inflammation of the blood vessels, Dr. Saqer says typically it affects children under five years of age, but in it's most severe form the patient is usually under two.

Saqer said, "The hallmark of the illness is a fever for five days, classically it's 104 degrees."

There are two phases of the Kawasaki disease. The fever occurs in the first phase and will not respond to Tylenol or Motrin. Symptoms of the first and second phases are listed below.

First phase:

  • severe redness in the eyes
  • a rash on the stomach, chest, and genitals
  • red, dry, cracked lips
  • swollen tongue with a white coating and big red bumps
  • sore, irritated throat
  • swollen palms of the hands and soles of the feet with a purple-red color
  • swollen lymph nodes

Second phase:

  • joint pain
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain

There is no test to detect Kawasaki disease.

"To diagnose Kawasaki, we rely on proving what it is not, rather than what it is," stated Saqer.

Untreated, Kawasaki disease can lead to heart complications and in some cases heart failure. Early diagnosis is critical.

"Patients who receive treatment within a window of 10 days from the onset of symptoms tend to have less complications," said Saqer.

In that 10 day window, doctors may treat the child with high doses of aspirin to reduce the risk of heart problems.

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