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The worldwide spread of tick-borne diseases (TBDs) has become a public health concern. Therefore, this study aimed to clarify trends in the incidence of Japanese spotted fever (JSF), one of Japan’s most prevalent TBDs. Weekly infectious disease reports were used to calculate the annual incidence rates (AIRs) of JSF. Data were stratified by age and sex, and joinpoint regression analysis was performed to estimate the annual percentage change (APC). AIR and APC were geographically compared among the 47 prefectures. A total of 3,453 JSF cases were observed from 2001 to 2020. The AIR per 100,000 population was 0.03 in 2001, which increased approximately 10-fold to 0.33 in 2020. The average APC (AAPC) during the study period was 12.3% (95% CI: 10.7–13.9). By age group, the incidence of JSF increased more rapidly among the older population: 11.5% (95% CI: 10.1–12.9) in those aged ≥ 65 years and 8.9% (95% CI: 6.4–11.5) in those aged < 50 years. Although the AIR over the past two decades was higher in climatically warm regions located in southwestern Japan and on the Pacific coast, increases in the AAPC were notable in colder regions located in eastern Japan. The incidence of JSF continues to increase in Japan, especially among older populations and in eastern prefectures, where the disease has not been previously diagnosed.
Authors’ addresses: Yuki Otsuka, Hideharu Hagiya, Shinnosuke Fukushima, and Fumio Otsuka, Department of General Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Okayama, Japan, E-mails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. Ko Harada, Department of General Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Okayama, Japan, and Department of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, New York, NY, E-mail: email@example.com. Toshihiro Koyama, Department of Pharmaceutical Biomedicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University, Okayama, Japan, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.