Spotlight on Kawasaki Disease

The recent tragic death of Jett Travolta has raised awareness of Kawasaki Disease, a disease with which he was diagnosed in early childhood.Kawasaki disease is a rare form of vasculitis which usually strikes children under the age of 5. The disease occurs more often in boys than girls, and most commonly in children of Asian and Korean descent. Although most children diagnosed with Kawasaki recover with no problems, some patients suffer serious heart problems and joint damage. Vasculitis is a family of potentially life-threatening diseases of unknown cause linked by blood vessel inflammation and an overactive immune system. Left untreated, most types of vasculitis can cause serious organ/tissue damage and may lead to death. Currently there is no cure, but proper and early treatment allows most individuals to live near normal lives. "Many vasculitis patients do not receive an early diagnosis because symptoms mimic other illnesses and many medical professionals do not recognize the symptoms of vasculitis," said Joyce Kullman, executive director of the Vasculitis Foundation (VF). "Unfortunately, delayed diagnosis of vasculitis can result in permanent tissue and organ damage. "The VF seeks to raise awareness and understanding of vasculitis among the medical community. Vasculitis is a chronic illness and patients often must deal with multiple specialists, multiple medications, and multiple side effects from very harsh and difficult treatments." ********** Published: January 9, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 38