Kawasaki Disease has really been unheard of in the United Stated since it was discovered back in the 1960s in Japan. It was a very mysterious infectious disease — some kind of inflammation in the blood vessels that primarily targeted children under the age of five and produced a variety of dramatic symptoms which can lead to an aneurysm.
Epidemiologists believe they now have a new place to look: on winds blowing from central Asia. A team of medical and climate scientists, argue in last November’s issue of Scientific Reports that the agent of Kawasaki disease is not only reaching Japan from the Asian mainland by this route, but it seems to be crossing the Pacific Ocean to infect children in Hawaii and the North American mainland. There are approximately 2,000-4,000 cases identified in the United States each year of Kawasaki Disease.
In the mid-2000s scientists started looking at a possible connection between Kawasaki disease and climate, with a meteorologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD. They found the cases were mainly seasonal, peaking in the winter and early spring, and again in early summer, which suggested that an environmental factor was involved. One trend stood out: When the winds blew from central Asia across Japan, the number of Kawasaki disease cases skyrocketed. All three major outbreaks in Japan had followed this pattern, and it was also evident in the normal disease seasons. When the winds shifted to blow from the Pacific, cases dropped. And when winds from central Asia made their way to Hawaii or California, cases spiked there too.
Symptoms of Kawasaki Disease may include:
- High Fever
- Persistent Fevver lasting 5 days and not responding to Tylenol
- Bloodshot Eyes
- Bright Red or Cracked Lips
- Strawberry Tongue or Bumps on the Back of Tongue
- Red Palms on Hands or Feet
- Swollen Hands or Feet
- Skin Rashes – Non blister kind of rashes
- Some Peeling Skin
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Joint Pain
- Diarrhea or Vomiting may accompany these symptoms
- Cough or Runny Nose
There are no specific tests for this disease. Diagnosis is made when several of the symptoms appear. Most children with these symptoms are admitted to the hospital as major complications can occur from this infectious disease including damage to the coronary arteries and heart. Most children are under 5 when they are diagnosed with this disease.
Scientists also wonder if other infectious diseases like the flu can be spread via the winds. Do you think the winds can spread Kawasaki Disease?