Kawasaki Disease: 2 Possible Causes Of The Childhood Ailment

Kawasaki disease is a mysterious childhood ailment. It is a rare condition that generally affects children under five years of age. It is also known as Kawasaki syndrome or mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome.

This disease is named after a Japanese pediatrician, Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki. This disease may have been in existence for a long time, but it was not recognized as a separate disease until 1967. The occurrence of this disease is highest in Japan than in any other country.

In the United States, this disease is most common among children of Asian-American background; however, it can occur in any racial or ethnic group. It has been reported worldwide, and in the United States, it is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children.1


The typical symptoms of the disease are as follows:2

  • High temperature that lasts for more than five days
  • Rash
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Red fingers or toes
  • Red eyes

The cause of Kawasaki disease is not known. The body’s reaction to a certain virus or infection combined with genetic factors may be the cause

of the disease.

Possible Causes of Kawasaki Disease

As mentioned earlier, the cause of this disease has not been found. There are two possibilities that researchers have arrived at – infection and genetics.3

1. Infection

Infection Is A Possible Cause Of Kawasaki Disease

The symptoms of this disease are similar to the ones cause by an infection. Therefore, it may be concluded that a bacteria or a virus may be causing this condition in children. However, a bacterium or virus has not been identified.

This cannot be passed from one child to another. If your child comes in contact with one who has this disease, he or she will not be affected. From this, it may be concluded that there is some other entity accompanying the virus that causes the disease.

Babies under six months are generally not affected. This suggests that they are protected by the antibodies passed on to them by their mother either before birth or while breastfeeding. However, we cannot rule

out completely the possibility of younger children developing this disease as well.

2. Genetics

Certain Acquired Genes Is A Possible Cause Of Kawasaki Disease

The development of this disease in some children may be because of their genes. This means that the genes they acquire from their parents make them more prone to this disease than the others.

Some say that instead of a single gene, there may be many genes acquired by the child that makes him or her that much more prone to the syndrome.

Another reason to support this cause is because of the fact that the disease is most common in children from Northeast Asia, especially Japan and Korea. This suggests there may be a genetic cause.

Other Causes

Some say that Kawasaki could be an autoimmune condition, where the immune system attacks the healthy tissues and organs.

Another theory suggests that Kawasaki disease may be a reaction to certain medications or environmental pollutants, such as chemicals or toxins (poisons).

An international team of scientists, including researchers from the

University of California, San Diego, have reported that a possible cause and source of Kawasaki disease may be a wind-borne agent originating from a source in northeast China.

The scientists observed that the outbreak of this disease coincided with certain wind patterns from Asia. With further investigation, the scientists observed that the disease increased only when the winds originated from a densely cultivated region in northeastern China characterized by vast cereal croplands. With this evidence, researchers conclude that the most likely cause of the disease is a “preformed toxin or environmental molecule” originating from northeastern China.4

These are only possible causes of Kawasaki disease and further research is required to substantiate them.