What Is It?
Kawasaki disease is a rare illness that typically strikes children younger than age 5. It is also known as mucocutaneous lymph node disease. Kawasaki disease is a mysterious illness of unknown cause, although some scientists suspect that the cause may be an infection (such as a virus or a toxin from a bacterium.
Kawasaki disease was first identified among Japanese children in 1967. Within nine years, the illness had been reported in American children living in Hawaii. Although researchers assume that the Kawasaki disease could have been caused by an infection that was carried between Japan and Hawaii, this has never been confirmed. Recent evidence suggests that inherited (genetic) factors may also be important. But the cause of Kawasaki disease remains a mystery.