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Kawasaki disease: Is Kawasaki disease contagious? Is there a treatment?

Kawasaki disease is an inflammatory syndrome where the body attacks blood vessels. The illness is very rare, but there have been a few reports of serious complications of the illness linked to COVID-19, but this is still under investigation. Professor Simon Kenny, NHS national clinical director for children and young people, said in a statement to CNN: “Thankfully Kawasaki-like diseases are very rare, as currently are serious complications in children related to COVID-19, but it is important that clinicians are made aware of any potential emerging links so that they are able to give children and young people the right care fast.”

What are the symptoms of Kawasaki disease?

According to the NHS website, the characteristic symptom of Kawasaki disease is a high temperature that lasts for five days or more, with:

  • a rash
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • dry, cracked lips
  • red fingers or toes
  • red eyes


  • Coronavirus symptoms: Deadly inflammatory fever linked to COVID-19

Is Kawasaki disease contagious?

Kawasaki disease is not contagious, but a child may be more likely to develop the disease if they inherit certain genes from their parents.

The NHS state: “The symptoms of Kawasaki disease are similar to those of an infection, so bacteria or a virus may be responsible. But so far a bacterial or viral cause hasn’t been identified.

“As Kawasaki disease isn’t contagious, it can’t be passed from one person to another. This makes it unlikely that it’s caused by a virus alone.

“Kawasaki disease can affect children of any age. It can be more serious in children under the age of 1.

“The children who develop Kawasaki disease may be genetically predisposed to it.

“This means the genes they inherit from their parents may make them more likely to get the condition.

“One theory is that rather than there being a single gene responsible for Kawasaki disease, it may be the result of many genes that each slightly increase the chances of a child developing the condition.

“Kawasaki disease is more common in children from northeast Asia, especially Japan and Korea. This also suggests there may be a genetic cause.”


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  • Kawasaki disease: What is Kawasaki disease?

Is there a treatment for Kawasaki disease?

Due to the risk of serious complications, Kawasaki disease is treated in hospital.

Prompt treatment is necessary, otherwise it may take longer for a child to recover and the risk of complications increases.

The two main treatments used for Kawasaki disease are aspirin and intravenous immunoglobulin.

Aspirin is not usually recommended for children under the age of 16 as it can cause dangerous side effects, and it must be prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Immunoglobulin is a solution of antibodies taken from healthy donors, and it is directly injected into a vein.

While people have been told to stay at home, the NHS state it can be hard to know what to do if your child is unwell.

However you must trust your instincts if you suspect your child is unwell and seek medical help.

Speak to your GP or call 111 if your child is unwell and has any symptoms of Kawasaki disease.

There are further details on symptoms and treatment for Kawasaki disease on the NHS website.

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  • Posted on May 7, 2020