Kawasaki Syndrome

What is Kawasaki Syndrome?

Kawasaki Syndrome (KS) is a rare disease that affects children under the age of five. It is a childhood illness that causes inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels, primarily in the medium-sized arteries like those in the heart. KS is a systemic vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) that mostly affects the coronary arteries, although it can also affect other blood vessels, typically in the first 2 weeks of illness.

What are the Symptoms of Kawasaki Syndrome?

The common Kawasaki Syndrome symptoms can include:

  • A fever lasting over 5 days
  • A rash, mainly on the trunk
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Reddened eyes and lips
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Inflammation of the hands and feet
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Joint pain

If left untreated, there is a risk of developing serious complications such as aneurysm (dilation of the arteries), heart attack, and heart failure—conditions which can be life-threatening.

What Causes Kawasaki Syndrome?

The exact cause of Kawasaki Syndrome is unknown, though research suggests it may be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Immunologic abnormalities in the immune response, as well as an infection with a bacterial or viral agent, are likely to play a role in the development of this condition.

Who is at Risk for Kawasaki Syndrome?

Kawasaki Syndrome occurs mainly in children under the age of 5, especially in boys. It is more common in children of Asian heritage, although it can occur in any ethnic group. Children with family members who have had KS or other autoimmune diseases are also at an increased risk.

How is Kawasaki Syndrome Treated?

The first step of treatment is to reduce the fever and inflammation with corticosteroids. This is usually followed by a single high dose of intravenous gamma globulin (IVIG), which is a mixture of antibodies that helps to reduce inflammation. If these treatments are not effective, additional treatments may be needed such as aspirin, streptokinase, or immunomodulatory agents.


Kawasaki Syndrome is a childhood illness that can cause serious complications if left untreated. It is important for parents to be aware of the symptoms of KS and seek prompt medical care if their child appears to be developing the condition. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk of life-threatening complications.