TOKYO -- There have been a total of 496 rubella patients this year in Japan, with 127 new cases from Sept. 3 to 9, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced on Sept. 19.
The number is already over five times the 93 people diagnosed with the infectious disease in 2017, and the latest sharp increase indicates the outbreak is still spreading.
Tokyo recorded the greatest number of new patients at 32, followed by Chiba Prefecture to the east at 27, Kanagawa Prefecture to the south at 19, and 11 in Saitama and Aichi prefectures, north of Tokyo and in central Japan, respectively.
Men between 30 and 59 comprise about two-thirds of total patients. This generation of men in particular has been affected by ineffective vaccinations due to changes in the government's immunization program, and has a relatively higher risk of infection.
The institute is calling for men in this age group to check their immunization records and immediately get the vaccination if they find that they did not receive the shot as a child.
Rubella is transmitted through mucus from symptoms such as coughing. If a woman who is up to 20 weeks pregnant contracts the disease, the fetus may also become infected, which may cause serious disabilities.
(Japanese original by Takeshi Noda, Medical Welfare News Department)