ICS Magazine

NPR Story Sheds New Light on Kawasaki Disease

May 21, 2012

It wasn’t too long ago that some believed that Kawasaki Disease, a mysterious childhood virus that causes arterial inflammation other symptoms, was linked to carpet cleaning. That hypothesis was dismissed over a decade ago (as evidenced in this June 2000 ICS article by the late Bob Wittkamp), but mystery still remains. Now a report in NPR has revealed some new information about Kawasaki Disease.



It wasn’t too long ago that some believed that Kawasaki Disease, a mysterious childhood virus that causes arterial inflammation other symptoms, was linked to carpet cleaning. That hypothesis was dismissed over a decade ago (as evidenced in this June 2000 ICS article by the late Bob Wittkamp), but mystery still remains. Now a report in NPR has revealed some new information about Kawasaki Disease.

From NPR: “It's a rare disease that mainly affects children younger than 4. It's estimated that more than 4,000 children get the disease each year in the U.S., but it's far more common in Asia, particularly in Japan, where 1 out of 150 children are infected. Scientists say it's unclear how the disease spreads.

But a few years ago, (Dr. Jane Burns, University of California – San Diego) started to notice a pattern: The disease appeared to be seasonal. "That meant that in January, February, March we were going to be very busy, and then in September, October, that was a good time to take our vacations," she says.

Japanese researchers noticed a similar pattern. Together, they worked with a group of climate scientists who started to analyze atmospheric data.

What the climate researchers found was an association with the direction of wind circulating in the troposphere at heights of 3,000 meters, Burns says. When those wind currents blew in one direction, across Japan, then across the Pacific, to the West Coast and Hawaii, the number of U.S. cases increased. When the wind blew in the opposite direction, the number of cases fell.”

See the complete story here.