Objective: To describe the long-term trend of incidence and other epidemiological pictures of Kawasaki disease in Japan, by using the results of 12 nationwide epidemiological surveys on Kawasaki disease that have been conducted throughout Japan (ie, surveys that have encompassed the pediatric departments of hospitals with more than 100 beds) every 2 years since 1970.
Results: At the end of December 1992, the total number of patients with this disease was 116,848 (males, 67,815; females, 49,033; male-female ratio, 1.38). The number of cases increased year by year, with three outbreaks in 1979, 1982, and 1986. There have been no cyclical changes since 1986. The incidence was higher in males and in those children who were 1 year of age or younger. The fatality rate decreased from 1% in 1974 to 0.04% in 1992.
Conclusions: The patterns of descriptive epidemiology, such as seasonality and cyclical changes in incidence, supported the theory of an infectious agent as the causal agent. However, the incidence data since 1986 provide less support for an infectious theory.