Karen Savage | CWK Network
“In some children with Kawasaki syndrome, they can actually get a dilation or a ballooning of the arteries that supply the heart…that could actually lead to heart attacks in babies or in children.”
- Dr. Kathleen Nelson, Professor of Pediatrics -
Small children get sick. Fevers are fairly common occurrences. But a high fever for several days was enough to send Josh Chastain’s mother to the emergency room with her two year old.
“How much fever did he have?” asks Dr. Kathleen Nelson, professor of pediatrics. “The highest was 103.7,” replies Josh’s mom.
Four days of high fever…then the other symptoms began: “he had red eyes. He had swollen, cracked, dry-looking lips. He had a very red rash in his diaper area with some flaking of skin there,” says Dr. Nelson.
2 year-old Josh was a classic case of a rare disease: Kawasaki syndrome.
“We don’t have a specific etiology for Kawasaki syndrome. We haven’t been able to isolate a particular germ or bacteria or virus that causes it,” says Nelson.
Scientists aren’t sure what causes it, but it results in inflammation of the skin, eyes, nose and lymph nodes.
And it can even damage the heart.
Nelson says, “in some children with Kawasaki syndrome, they can actually get a dilation or a ballooning of the arteries that supply the heart…that could actually lead to heart attacks in babies or in children.”
To stop the inflammation and protect his heart, Josh spent the night in the hospital getting an i.v. of proteins and antibodies from donated blood.
“Over the last 25 years we’ve discovered that if you give intravenous gamma globulin early enough in the course of the disease, you markedly decrease the chance of developing this complication,” says Nelson.
And then to reassure Josh’s mom, she tells her, “we had our cardiologist take a look and everything checked out perfectly. We want the cardiologist to check him again in a few weeks, but we’re going to be sending him out of here with some baby aspirin to take once a day.”
Doctors won’t know for weeks or months if Josh will develop heart problems. So a cardiologist will follow his progress for the next year just to make sure.
Dr. Nelson is optimistic. “I’m hopeful he’s gonna do fine. We got it really early and he responded dramatically and beautifully,” she says.
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