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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Auto-Immune Disease At All-tIme High In Kids

A news report from the Japan Times on March 17, 2012 says that there is an apparent increase in the number of Japanese people suffering from the autoimmune disease Kawasaki Syndrome, that tends to mainly afflict young children under the age of five years of age.

This disease causes the medium-sized blood cells to become inflamed. It affects the organs, primarily the blood vesels, skin, mucous membranes and lymph nodes, and though rare, it can be fatal if it attacks the heart, causing coronary artery aneurisms - a heart attack.

While there is no known cause or cure for Kawasaki Syndrome, a recent survey (conducted every two years) shows that in 2010 for patients under four years of age, there were 12,755 cases - the sixth year in a row it has surpassed 10,000.

"The incidence of the disease has been rising steadily since the mid-1990s, although we don't know exactly what has been behind the latest increase," states Nakamura Yoshikazu (surname first), a public health professor at Jichi Medical University in Tochigi-ken.

Further troubling was the incidence of Kawasaki Syndrome per 100,000 kids under the age of four: 239.6, which was the highest rate recorded since the study began in 1970, eclipsing the previous high of 219.9 back in 2008.

The 2010 total also was the third-highest level on record, after the 15,519 incidences in 1982 and the 12,847 cases four years later.

Kawasaki Syndrome was first discovered in Japan by pediatrician Kawasaki Tomisaku (surname first) diagnosed it in 1967. The disease is not just limited to Japan, of course. 

For those wanting to be safe or worried, the main symptoms include high fever, strawberry-like red bumps on the tongue (see photo above, which includes: the strawberry tongue, bright red swollen lips with vertical cracking and bleeding), swollen lymph nodes in the neck, skin rashes and bloodshot eyes.

While there is an effective treatment - intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) from 3-10,00 healthy donors - for 20 per cent of the patients, it does not work. Research continues. 

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

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