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Japanese Pediatrician Who Discovered Kawasaki Disease Dies at 95

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Japanese pediatrician Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki died at the age of 95, according to the Kawasaki Disease Foundation, on June 5. Kawasaki discovered a rare multisystem inflammatory blood disorder that affects children — now called Kawasaki disease.

“Dr. Kawasaki was a pioneer who inspired so many to collaborate across the globe for a common cause,” the Kawasaki Disease Foundation wrote on its website, adding:

For those that had the good fortune to meet him, it was impossible not to be touched by his intense compassion for children. He has been a force and presence for so long that we thought he would live forever. Certainly, his spirit will endure.

According to the Japan Times, Kawasaki first recognized the condition that was named after him in 1961. He treated several children, most under the age of 5, who presented with high fevers, skin rashes, pink eye, and a swollen, bumpy tongue.

He wrote about the condition in 50 children in a journal article in 1967, and the disease was later named after him. Kawasaki disease is a type of vasculitis, and while the cause is still unknown, effective treatments are available.

Kawasaki disease recently gained international attention when some children with COVID-19 started presenting with symptoms similar to the rare disorder. Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome observed in young people with COVID-19 is slightly different than Kawasaki disease.

But, as COVID-19 attention turned to blood vessel-related symptoms, some experts now hypothesize that the novel coronavirus may actually be a blood vessel disease as opposed to a typical respiratory illness.

Header image via Sasaton Krungsee/Getty Images

Originally published: June 10, 2020
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