On the television show House (season 8, episode 5), the illness which House eventually diagnosed Jamie Bamber (an adult) with is Kawasaki disease.
This autoimmune disease is one that almost always hits young children, but the show seemed like a jumping off point to learn about Kawasaki disease.
In all fairness House has diagnosed children with this disease on past shows. Whether or not this was the correct diagnosis doesn’t matter since hopefully no one is using TV shows to diagnose anyone
Kawasaki disease is a rare condition in children that involves inflammation of the blood vessels. Just about every autoimmune disease has no known cause. That is true with this one as well. To make matters worse there are no tests that diagnose this disease. The diagnosis is made based on the symptoms.
The symptoms include:
- blood shot or red eyes.
- bright red, chapped, or cracked lips.
- red mucous membranes in the mouth.
- red palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
- swollen hands and feet.
- skin rashes on the middle of the body.
- peeling skin.
- swollen lymph nodes especially in the neck area.
- joint pain and swelling.
- a fever higher than 102 degrees F, which might last up to two weeks and doesn’t go away with over the counter medication.
Most Kawasaki patients live in Japan, are younger than 5, and are boys It is the leading cause of heart disease in children other than heart defects at birth.
Treatment is intravenous gamma globulin. (IgG is an antibody that is taken from the plasma of more than a thousand blood donors.) Children usually are better quickly with this treatment along with high doses of aspirin.
At the end of the show, House said “It fits” when the diagnosis was made. Yes, it did fit but was it the correct one?