Causes of Kawasaki Syndrome And How Contagious Is it?

What is Kawasaki syndrome?

The Kawasaki syndrome is a rare, severe illness among children, whereby the skin is covered with rashes, as a result of an autoimmune response that occurs (whereby the body’s immune system fails to recognize its own constituents as self, and, as a result, initiate an immune response against them.). It is mainly children less than five years old who get affected by Kawasaki syndrome.


Other names of Kawasaki

  1. Kawasaki syndrome
  2. Lymph node syndrome
  3. Mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome

Who is affected?

Generally, infants and children under five years of age fall prey to the disease. This disease is mostly found in Japan. Boys are generally more affected than their female counterparts.

Transmission of Kawasaki Syndrome

This has been a mystery for a while now. No definite data has been gathered as to how the disease is spread and how does one contract it. It does not seem to be contagious, transmitted from one person to another.

The cause is unknown. But, being an autoimmune disease, the cause might be environmental factors linked with genetics, and perhaps entailing an infectious agent as well.

What are the symptoms of Kawasaki Syndrome?

  • High fever. The fever does not subside with antibiotics or paracetamol; persistent fever. It may last for approximately a week, and, beyond one week if left untreated. The prolonged fever may lead to cardiac problems.
  • Irritability
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • The conjunctivae and oral mucosa become red and inflamed
  • Red mucous membranes in the mouth
  • Edema may also occur on the hands and feet (accumulation of fluid beneath the skin or in cavities). Edema may become painful in extreme cases.
  • Red eyes, lips, throat and tongue. Strawberry tongue, or at times, a white coating is found on the tongue, or, visible red bumps on the back of the tongue.
  • Swollen lips as a result of edema may have vertical cracking and bleeding
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Rash may cover the whole body. Rashes often give rise to peeling off of the skin outlying the hands and the fingers, and sometimes, peeling of skin occurs near the genital areas as well.
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose

Immunity against Kawasaki Syndrome

Past infections of the disease have rendered some people with immunity. However, this is extremely rare.

Treatment for Kawasaki Syndrome

Treatment is best at the hospital because the patients can be thus constantly watched upon by the specialists who can monitor the disease, attempting to prevent further complications. Aspirin and intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) are prescribed. High doses of the IVIG are given and the dose increases if necessary. The use of aspirin has been questioned by some, though.

Complications due to Kawasaki Syndrome

Sometimes, complications arise when one is affected by Kawasaki syndrome. A condition known as coronary artery aneurysms may occur, whereby blood vessels become abnormally dilated. Other organs may also become involved.


Very few people die of Kawasaki syndrome. Less than 1 % of the patients die of the disease and of the complications that crop up.


Since little is known about the disease, preventive measures have not been able to be formulated.

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