Getting to the heart of the matter: Hovland strives to educate people about Kawasaki Disease

A more current picture of Michael Hovland, a happy, healthy four-and-a-half-year-old. Photo provided

Many people are familiar with the word “Kawasaki,” bringing to mind a make of motorcycle. But there are very few people who are familiar with a different terminology for the word, one that can change the lives of children - and not for the better.

This past Saturday, Jan. 26, was Kawasaki Disease Awareness Day. This illness, which almost always affects kids under the age of five, is one of the leading causes of heart disease in children. It causes the blood vessels to become inflamed which can lead to damage of the coronary arteries - the vessels that carry blood to the heart. Kawasaki Disease can also create problems with the skin, lymph nodes, and the lining of a child’s mouth, nose and throat.

Nineteen out of 100,000 children are diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease every year. In 2014, Michael Hovland of Eagle Grove was one of them. His mother, Crystal (Hollander) Hovland, unaware of the disease herself before her son came down with it, thought it was just something viral.

“I didn’t think too much of it,” she admitted about seeing a rash on her 21-month-old son.

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