It is one of the most common causes of acquired heart disease in pediatrics, yet very little is known about Kawasaki Disease. It was discovered by Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki in Japan in the 1960s. It has since been documented around the world, including a spike in cases in San Diego earlier this year. Yet, the cause of Kawasaki Disease remains a mystery.
Dr. Jane Burns is the director of the UC San Diego Kawasaki Disease Research Center, and one of the leading experts on the disease. She sat down to discuss her research, and what parents need to know about Kawasaki Disease with Dr. David Granet on Health Matters. She says because it starts off with a sudden high fever, Kawasaki Disease can often be misdiagnosed as a common virus. But, parents can easily spot the telltale symptoms in the following days: bloodshot eyes, bright red mouth and lips, swollen and red hands and feet, and body rash.
When untreated, one in four children with Kawasaki Disease will develop permanent, potentially fatal heart disease. Those complications can usually be avoided with proper treatment, but it’s expensive and out of reach for millions of children around the world. That’s why Dr. Burns and her team continue to investigate the mysterious disease.