Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Imperial College London Monday announced findings which could result in the ability to accurately test blood for Kawasaki disease, a serious illness that primarily affects young children and infants and is characterized by inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body.

Kawasaki disease can lead to coronary artery aneurysms in one-quarter of affected children that can ultimately result in heart attacks, congestive heart failure or sudden death.

While there is currently no point-of-service test for Kawasaki disease, the researchers found evidence in the participants’ gene sequencing that could eventually lead to a test that can be used in the emergency department and hospital lab setting.

“As there is no diagnostic test for Kawasaki disease, late diagnosis often results in delayed or missed treatment and an increased risk of coronary artery aneurysms,” said Dr. Jane C. Burns, a pediatrician at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and director of the Kawasaki Disease Research Center at UCSD.

The majority of the 404 study participants with Kawasaki disease came from Rady Children’s Hospital. Researchers also studied children from the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands with Kawasaki disease or similar illnesses.

Prevalence rates of Kawasaki disease are low in the United States — 19 to 25 cases per 100,000 children under the age of 5 — but they continue to rise in San Diego County, according to UCSD. Predictive models estimate that one out of every 1,600 American adults will have been affected by the disease by 2030.

–City News Service