Kawasaki disease is one of the leading causes of heart failure in children under the age of five, and cases have increased significantly in the past five years.

Figures from the NHS show that the number of children being treated for the condition in England and Wales has doubled, with 706 requiring treatment.

In the past five years, an average of 336 people needed treatment.

What is Kawasaki disease?

Also known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, the disease can cause some blood vessels around the heart to enlarge and, if not treated in time, can lead to death.

The rising number of cases has prompted a plea for more plasma donations to help young people recover from the disease.

Children are treated with Immunoglobulin – a medicine made from donated plasma.

If left untreated, 1 in 1 child with Kawasaki disease may develop heart problems, which can lead to death in 2 to 3 percent of cases, according to the NHS.

Who can find it?

It mainly affects children under 5 years of age.

Around 8 in 100,000 children are diagnosed with Kawasaki disease in the UK each year and studies show that it is 1.5 times more common in boys than in girls.

How to recognize the symptoms of Kawasaki disease

A child with Kawasaki disease may have a high temperature that lasts for five days or more and may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Dry, red chapped lips
  • Swollen, bumpy, red tongue (“strawberry tongue”)
  • Red in the mouth and back of the throat
  • Swollen and red hands and feet
  • Red eyes

A common first symptom of the disease is a red and swollen tongue with red spots called ‘strawberry tongue’


After a few weeks and with the right treatment, the symptoms will decrease, but in some children it may take longer to heal.

What to do if you think your child has it

If your child has a persistent high temperature and one or more of the symptoms of Kawasaki disease, go to a GP straight away or call 111 if you cannot contact a GP.

If your child is under one year old, you are advised to see a GP or call 111 immediately.

The symptoms of Kawasaki disease can be similar to other conditions that cause fever in children.

Kawasaki disease cannot be prevented, but children can make a full recovery if diagnosed and treated promptly within 6 to 8 weeks.

The exact cause of Kawasaki disease is not known, but researchers believe that the increase in cases may be due to the reintegration of children after the Covid-19 pandemic.

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