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Published Friday, November 9, 2018
A sudden sharp increase in rubella cases in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures has sparked fears that Japan is in the grip of a new epidemic.
The number of patients suffering from what is often called German measles already stands at 1,103 this year, about 12 times the figure for all of 2017, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID). About 70 percent of infected people are men in their 30s through 50s.
Alarmed by the trend, some companies have begun offering a vaccination program on office premises so busy employees don't need to take time off from work to visit a clinic for a shot.
The infection rate began surging in late July. More than 100 patients were reported weekly during the past five weeks alone, according to the NIID. Numerous cases were reported in Tokyo and nearby Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures. The disease is also spreading in Aichi, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka prefectures.
As of Oct. 7, only seven of the nation's 47 prefectures reported no infections, most of them in the southern main island of Kyushu, particularly Saga and Nagasaki prefectures.
Rubella is a viral infection passed on mainly through saliva spray from sneezes and coughs. Its symptoms include high fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes. It is particularly dangerous for women in the early stages of pregnancy.
Infection can cause a fetus to develop a hearing impairment or heart or other diseases, known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).
Japan Rubella Epidemic Facts
Affected Area: 300 km.
Alert Level: Orange
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