Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Kawasaki disease is wind-borne

Cases of the debilitating childhood disease in Japan are likely caused by toxins that float in from China’s farmlands, a study finds.

Kawasaki disease, the number-one cause of acquired heart disease in children in industrialized countries, may be caused by toxins that arrive with seasonal winds, according to a study published in PNAS. A team led by Xavier Rodó, a climate scientist at the Institut Català de Ciències del Clima (IC3) in Barcelona, Spain, studied outbreaks of the disease in Japan from 1979 to 2010. Comparing that information to wind patterns, the researchers narrowed the source of the disease to farmland in northeastern China.

The team also found Candida fungus in air samples taken from winds blowing from northeastern China.

Kawasaki disease is most common in children under five and causes a rash and an often uncontrollable fever. The disease was first identified in Japan in 1961, but its cause remains a mystery. The highest incidence of Kawasaki disease is in Japan, which reports more than 12,000 cases annually. In the U.S., 5,000 to 6,000 cases are reported every year.

Posted by Tim Sandle