Background: Kawasaki disease (KD) is the most common cause of acquired heart disease in children in the United States. Epidemiologic surveillance is conducted to monitor baseline incidence of the disease and to identify epidemics. The aim of this study was to evaluate a passive surveillance system for reporting cases of KD in San Diego County to the local, state and national health authorities.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of a 2-year period to identify the number of patients who met criteria of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for diagnosis of KD and who were successfully reported to the county, state and national databases.
Results: The total number of KD patients for 1994 and 1995 was determined by retrospective review of medical record discharge diagnosis codes. Of the 28 San Diego County residents diagnosed with KD in 1994, 24 (86%) met CDC criteria and 15 (63%) of these eligible patients were reported to the county and state health authorities. Of the 41 residents in 1995, 34 (83%) met CDC criteria and 22 (65%) were reported to the above agencies. No patient in either 1994 or 1995 was reported by local or state health authorities to the CDC.
Conclusion: Passive surveillance for KD in San Diego County resulted in the reporting of approximately two-thirds of the eligible patients at the county and state levels but completely failed to report any documented cases to the CDC. Implementation of a sentinel hospital reporting system should be considered as a preferred alternative to national passive surveillance in the effort to track total numbers of patients and to follow disease trends over time.