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2018 rubella infections in Japan already 8 times higher than previous year

TOKYO -- The number of rubella patients in Japan rose by 104 over the week ending Sept. 23, reaching a total of 770 so far this year -- over eight times the figure recorded for the whole of 2017, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced on Oct. 2.

It was the third week in a row that the number of newly reported patients topped 100. In 2017, there were 93 patients nationwide diagnosed with the disease.

By prefecture, Tokyo recorded the greatest increase Sept. 17-23 with 26 new patients, followed by 19 in Chiba just east of the capital, 15 in Kanagawa to the south and 12 in Saitama north of Tokyo. The central Japan prefecture of Aichi and Ibaraki Prefecture northeast of Tokyo marked six new patients each, while the prefectures of Iwate in northeastern Japan and Ishikawa on the west coast of central Japan recorded their first infections of the year. Only seven of Japan's 47 prefectures saw no new cases during the period.

Infection with rubella during pregnancy can result in a child being born with impaired hearing or heart disease. The largest group of patients this year consisted of men between their 30s and 50s. The institute is calling for people to receive antibody tests to check their immunity, and to receive vaccinations immediately.

(Japanese original by Go Kumagai, Medical Welfare News Department)

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