When and where was Kawasaki disease first described?

Updated: Jul 29, 2018
  • Author: Tina K Sosa, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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KD is an acute febrile vasculitic syndrome of early childhood. The disorder has also been called mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome and infantile periarteritis nodosa. It was first described in 1967 by Dr Tomisaku Kawasaki, who reported 50 cases of a distinctive illness in children seen at the Tokyo Red Cross Medical Center in Japan. [7] These children presented with fever, rash, conjunctival injection, cervical lymphadenopathy, inflammation of the lips and oral cavity, and erythema and edema of the hands and feet. In 1976, Melish et al first reported KD in the United States, in a group of 12 children from Honolulu. [8]  KD is now recognized worldwide, although the greatest number of cases has been in Japan.

The illness was initially thought to be benign and self-limited. However, subsequent reports indicated that nearly 2% of patients with KD later died from the illness. These children died while they were improving or after they had seemingly recovered. Postmortem examinations revealed complete thrombotic occlusion of CAAs, with myocardial infarction (MI) as the immediate cause of death. It is now recognized as the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children in the developed world, surpassing rheumatic fever, and is a risk factor for adult ischemic heart disease.

The photographs below depict various manifestations of KD.

Kawasaki disease: Patchy generalized macular eryth Kawasaki disease: Patchy generalized macular erythema, which is also typical of some viral exanthems.
Kawasaki disease: Peeling and erythema of the fing Kawasaki disease: Peeling and erythema of the fingertips.
Kawasaki disease: Strawberry tongue. Kawasaki disease: Strawberry tongue.

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