When Heagan Sparling’s son, Sawyer, spiked a fever that lasted for days, she knew something was wrong. After a trip to the doctor’s office Sawyer was diagnosed with a rare and serious illness that few know of: Kawasaki Disease.
While this disease often is misdiagnosed, it is the leading heart disease in children. Left untreated it can cause damage to the coronary arteries. Thankfully, Sawyer was diagnosed and treated by Findlay’s own Dr. Cheryl Huffman. Many parents are unaware of the disease and the signs and symptoms.
Knowing the Unknown
Lacking key knowledge about Kawasaki Disease can mean misdiagnosing the disease or missing it completely. Some doctors and pediatricians won’t diagnose the disease unless it meets certain criteria, though the disease can still be present even without all criteria being met.
The disease is most common in children under age 5. Kawasaki Disease is not contagious, can be like other common illnesses and no single test can detect it. Once found, it is curable with an IVIG treatment. Undiagnosed, it could lead to serious heart health problems.
The first and most apparent sign is a high fever (101+) that lasts for more than four days. Other common symptoms include bloodshot eyes without drainage or crusting, changes around the mouth, rashes, swollen lymph nodes, and changes in appendages.
Passing it On
Sparling hopes to spread her own story and message about Kawasaki Disease, as she and her family have gone through it and want to educate others about it.
“Knowledge is power when it comes to rare illnesses,” said Sparling. “You never know when the knowledge you have could help a friend with a very sick child.”