Kawasaki disease is rare and there is a good chance that you have never even heard of it, even though the first case was diagnosed in 1961.
Kids with this condition are typically irritable and can develop high fever, swollen glands in their neck, red eyes, red, cracked lips, red, swollen hands and feet, and a rash.
If you have heard of it, there is a good chance it is because anti-vaccine folks are using Kawasaki disease to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids. Lately, talk about Kawasaki disease and the meningococcal B vaccines have been going around.
What Causes Kawasaki Disease?
Kawasaki disease is a type of vasculitis.
Kids who develop Kawasaki disease, who are typically under age 5 years, develop inflammation of their blood vessels, which leads to many of the symptoms and complications we see.
What causes this inflammation?
“Evidence suggests that Kawasaki disease may be linked to a yet-to-be identified infectious agent, such as a virus or bacteria. However, despite intense research, no bacteria, virus, or toxin has been identified as a cause of the disease.”
AAP on Kawasaki disease
We don’t know.
Can Vaccines Cause Kawasaki Disease?
Because the cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown, that leads some folks to think that it could be vaccines.
That vaccine clinical trial data sometimes finds a higher, although not statistically significant risk for Kawasaki disease, gets some of those folks thinking about it even more, except they don’t seem to think about the fact that the risk is never statistically significant.
But aren’t there case reports of kids getting Kawasaki disease after getting a hepatitis A, yellow fever, hepatitis B, or flu vaccine?
Yes, but getting a case report published about one patient who you think got Kawasaki disease soon after getting a vaccine isn’t strong evidence that it wasn’t a coincidence.
“Childhood vaccinations’ studied did not increase the risk of Kawasaki disease; conversely, vaccination was associated with a transient decrease in Kawasaki disease incidence. Verifying and understanding this potential protective effect could yield clues to the underlying etiology of Kawasaki disease.”
Abrams et al. on Childhood vaccines and Kawasaki disease, Vaccine Safety Datalink, 1996-2006.
And not surprisingly, several studies have shown that there isn’t any extra risk for Kawasaki disease after routine vaccines.
What to Know About Vaccines and Kawasaki Disease
While anti-vaccine folks often list Kawasaki disease among their vaccine-induced diseases, several studies have shown that vaccines are not associated with Kawasaki disease, except to maybe have a protective effective if you are fully vaccinated.
More on Vaccines and Kawasaki Disease
- AAP – Kawasaki disease
- CDC – Kawasaki disease case definition
- Kawasaki Disease
- Kawasaki Disease
- Kawasaki Disease Foundation
- Kawasaki Disease: A Brief History
- Kawasaki Disease Research Project
- Study – Kawasaki disease after vaccination: reports to the vaccine adverse event reporting system 1990-2007.
- Study – Childhood vaccines and Kawasaki disease, Vaccine Safety Datalink, 1996-2006
- Study – The incidence of Kawasaki disease after vaccination within the UK pre-school National Immunisation Programme: an observational THIN database study.
- Vaccines and Kawasaki disease.
- Study – Lack of association of Kawasaki disease after immunization in a cohort of infants followed for multiple autoimmune diagnoses in a large, phase-4 observational database safety study of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine: lack of association between Kawasaki disease and seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
- A Patient with Kawasaki Disease Following Influenza Vaccinations
- Yellow Fever Vaccination and Kawasaki Disease
- Kawasaki disease in an infant following immunisation with hepatitis B vaccine.
- The first case of Kawasaki disease in a 20-month old baby following immunization with rotavirus vaccine and hepatitis A vaccine in China: A case report.
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