Valley ties to disease that killed John Travolta's son

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What exactly is Kawasaki disease?
azfamily.com

PHOENIX - The Travolta family's tragedy has brought Kawasaki Disease into the forefront of discussion because it is a relatively new illness discovered in the late 60s.

Although rare, 3TV talked to a Valley woman who has had two family members suffer from it.

Amber Cargile first came in contact with Kawasaki disease 30 years ago. She says, "My sister was one of the first dozen or so diagnosed cases in the United States back in 1979. She was 3 years old at the time."

She faced the disease once again five years ago when her 10-year-old daughter Annie was diagnosed. "Nobody knows how you get Kawasaki Disease," she admits. "I will tell you that in both of our cases in our family and also the way I understand Jet Travolta's case unfolded, we all cleaned our carpets in our homes within 2 weeks of the onset of symptoms."

Symptoms include fever, rash, red eyes, lips, tongue, palms and feet, swollen hands, feet and lymph nodes. Cargile explains, " There's a school of thought now that it's not necessarily the cleaning chemicals per say but perhaps the actual act of cleaning a carpet releases whatever the trigger is for Kawasaki syndrome."

Cargile decided to replace all the carpet in her home. "I didn't want to risk cleaning carpets around my children again."

About 4,200 children are diagnosed with it in the U.S. each year, 75% of them are under five years old.

It is more common in boys than girls and it is not contagious. Although seizures are nearly unheard of in Kawasaki cases, it can happen.

Dr. Jeffrey Buchhalter admits, "Anything is possible but very very rare." He is a pediatric epilepsy physician at Phoenix Children's Hospital. He explains, "Kawasaki Disease is an inflammatory diseaseinvolves skin blood vessels and heart. Everything in the body becomes super inflamed. It's reacting to something."

It took several days in the hospital but Cargile's daughter recovered. "The great news is Annie is completely clear and free."

Annie gets a check-up every three years because doctors just do not know what the long-term affects might be.

Kawasaki Disease gets its name from the Japanese physician who first described the illness in 1967.