What is it?

Kawasaki disease (KD) is an uncommon illness that mostly affects young children under five years of age. Blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed causing a collection of symptoms which include high fever, rash on trunk, limbs and nappy area, red and cracked lips and extreme irritability.  The cause of the disease remains unknown and there is no specific test to confirm the illness- it is a constellation of symptoms and the diagnosis is usually made by a paediatric specialist. KD is not contagious to other children.

Treatment

The treatment for KD is intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) from donated blood transfusions. Immunoglobulins (or antibodies) are used by the immune system to fight germs (viruses or bacteria) in the body.

Kawasaki disease and immunisation

There is no scientific evidence for vaccines causing KD.

Whilst the KD diagnoses may be made post an immunisation, this is called a temporal association and a systematic review [see resources] did not identify a causal link.

Vaccines should be administered in line with the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

Precaution – live-attenuated vaccines

According to current guidelines, immunisation with live-attenuated vaccines (such as measles-mumps-rubella [MMR] and varicella) should be deferred for 11 months following the administration of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).  This is due to potential interactions and the possible associated lack of long term vaccine protection.

Resources

Author: Adele Harris (SAEFVIC Research Nurse, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute). 

Date: January 2020

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.