Physicians see rise in flu-like disease known as Kawasaki disease

Disease affects mostly children

SAN DIEGO - As the number of flu cases in San Diego County dramatically rises, local physicians are also seeing an increase in cases of a flu-like disease that affects mostly children.

Emily Beard's entire family came down with the flu last week, but 7-year-old Emily also came down with something else.

"It was a shock to my wife and I; we never heard of Kawasaki disease before," said Josh Beard, Emily's father.

Though there is no known connection between the flu and Kawasaki disease, Rady Children's Hospital has admitted six children just this week with the disease.

"We don't know what causes it, but we can treat it; but if it's not treated within the first 10 days, then there's a risk of heart damage," said Dr. Adriana Tremoulet.

The symptoms include red eyes, a full-body rash, swelling of the hands and feet and a sustained high fever.

"Those symptoms are often mistaken for something else, which makes this disease easy to miss. In fact, half the children in the country are misdiagnosed," said Tremoulet.

The disease is named for Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki, who began documenting cases in Japan.

Though it is still fairly rare, Tremoulet said parents need to know about this and ask their family doctor if it could be Kawasaki disease.

The 10-day timeframe is critical, she added.

Learn more about Kawasaki disease:

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