Today is Kawasaki Disease Awareness Day

New National Organization Will Tackle Awareness of Kawasaki Disease


Kawasaki disease is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in Canadian children. Every year, hundreds of children are diagnosed and treated across Canada and for most children, the story ends there. But for those who miss an early diagnosis, Kawasaki disease can result in undetected damage to the coronary arteries.

Kawasaki Disease Canada, which launches today, is a non – profit organization dedicated to supporting affected individuals and families, educating the health care community and the public, and supporting Kawasaki disease research. Its ultimate goal is to support the eradication of Kawasaki disease.

“As a parent who lost a child to undiagnosed Kawasaki disease, I’m highly motivated to promote awareness and early detection of the disease,” said Kawasaki Disease Canada President, Elizabeth Heald. “I started sharing our story with anyone who would listen. In the 7 years since Dylan died, I must have told our story to hundreds, maybe thousands of people, but I rarely found a person who had heard of Kawasaki disease. I realized that in order to get the message out to a broader audience, we would need to do something big.”

The organization’s website,, which also launches today, will enable families who may be encountering Kawasaki disease for the first time, to quickly access information about the disease, resources and a support network.

Early diagnosis is critical in treating Kawasaki disease but the symptoms aren’t always straightforward. Typical Kawasaki disease presents as a prolonged fever lasting five days or more with at least four other symptoms, including:

  • A Rash
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Bright Red, Swollen, Cracked Lips
  • “Strawberry Tongue”
  • Swollen Hands and Feet
  • Redness of the Palms and Soles of the Feet
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes in the Neck

However, Kawasaki Disease Canada encourages parents to ask their doctor about Kawasaki disease when a prolonged fever is accompanied by any of the above symptoms.

“In Kawasaki disease, our immune system responds to an infectious trigger or some other danger signal and somehow this response gets out of hand and leads to a battle against both the infection and also against our own blood vessels, specifically the coronary arteries,” says Dr. Rae Yeung, a Professor of Paediatrics, Immunology and Medical Science at the University of Toronto, Senior Scientist and Staff Rheumatologist at The Hospital for Sick Children, and an advisor to Kawasaki disease Canada. In about 25% of untreated cases and 5% of treated children, this battle will result in lifelong heart disease.

“Identifying who will get Kawasaki disease and who is at high risk for severe disease are important steps,” says Yeung.

Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Rejane Dillenburg, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at McMaster University, and advisor to Kawasaki disease Canada, comments that “Research into the cause of Kawasaki disease is critical. If we knew more about the possible multiple factors causing Kawasaki disease, we could develop one or more diagnostic tests, we could develop more effective screening and prevention, potentially a vaccine, and eventually eradicate the disease completely.”

About Kawasaki Disease Awareness Day

January 26 is the anniversary of the day in 1961 that Japanese doctor Tomisaku Kawasaki began to recognize a cluster of symptoms that led to the classification “Kawasaki disease”, which is also known as “KD”.

About Kawasaki Disease Canada

Kawasaki disease Canada is a non – profit with a mandate to provide information and support to affected individuals and families; to educate the health care community and the public; and to support research into Kawasaki disease. For more information, visit

For more information, contact: Elizabeth Heald President, Kawasaki Disease Canada (519) 635-8164 Email: