Kawasaki disease factsheet


Kawasaki disease is a rare disease that causes inflammation of the blood vessels all over the body. It mainly affects children under five years but can sometimes appear in older children. Very rarely do teenagers and adults get the disease. The current cause of Kawasaki disease it not known, and it is not contagious.

 Signs and symptoms

Kawasaki disease will usually start with a high fever (over 39°C) that is not brought down by paracetamol or ibuprofen. The fever will last for at least five days, with the following symptoms developing:

  • rash that covers the entire body
  • skin peeling around nappy or underwear area
  • skin peeling around finger and toenails
  • sore, bloodshot, or red eyes with no weeping
  • red lips that appear shiny, dry, or cracked
  • red tongue with bumps
  • redness and swelling of palms and feet
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • joint pain
  • irritability.

Kawasaki disease can also cause inflammation of the heart arteries. This puts your child at risk of an aneurysm and potential future heart problems. If you notice these symptoms, contact your local doctor.


Some diseases like measles and scarlet fever can look like Kawasaki disease, so it is important your child sees their doctor as soon as possible.

Your child's doctor can diagnose them with Kawasaki disease based on their symptoms and ruling out any other cause of an ongoing fever. 


Kawasaki disease is treated in the hospital. Treatment involves giving immunoglobulin, also called gammaglobulin, through an intravenous (IV) cannula over several hours. Immunoglobulins are antibodies that are taken from donated blood. They help your child's immune system fight the illness and are effective at stopping the fever and symptoms of the disease. When treated quickly, they also help to prevent any damage to the heart arteries and reduce the risk of heart complications in the future.

Your child will have a test called an echocardiogram to check their heart while they are in hospital. This is to make sure there are no problems with the arteries, heart valve or muscle.

Once a child has recovered from Kawasaki disease it is very rare for them to have the disease again. Only a small number of children will have it a second time. 


Care at home

Once your child leaves hospital, it may take them 4- 8 weeks to recover fully. During this time, they should have lots of rest and fluids.

Your child may still experience peeling of the skin while they are recovering. This is normal but call your local doctor if you have any concerns.

Your child will need to see a paediatrician after leaving hospital. They will do another echocardiogram to check their heart for damage. If there is damage, your child will be referred to a paediatric cardiologist for further treatment.

Resources and more information

Kawasaki Disease Foundation Australia

Kawasaki Disease Foundation Australia

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Support for Kawasaki Disease patients, their parents, carers, families and the community through resources, advocacy and research.
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Last updated Tuesday 12th December 2023


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024