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Over 10,000 whooping cough patients in Japan already this year: report

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases building is seen in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on May 11, 2019. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

TOKYO -- The number of reported whooping cough patients in Japan this year had reached 10,110 as of Aug. 4, according to preliminary data announced by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases on Aug. 13.

Last year, a total of 11,190 patients were reported to have suffered from whooping cough in provisional data and 23% of them were at least 20 years old. This year, the number of sufferers has already nearly reached the total for 2018.

According to preliminary data on the total number of reported whooping cough, or pertussis, patients throughout Japan this year, the largest figures appeared in Tokyo (885), Fukuoka Prefecture in southwestern Japan (652), Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo (628), Kagoshima Prefecture in southwestern Japan (594) and Osaka Prefecture in western Japan (555). In a one-week period up to Aug. 4, a total of 231 patients were newly reported in Japan.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. It can affect people at any age and be very serious.

Nobuhiko Okabe, head of the Kawasaki City Institute for Public Health, commented, "The number of patients reaching 10,000 may be because full reporting has become common. Regardless, the figures show that there are many whooping cough patients. Adults should realize that they could spread the disease to babies and infants. I recommend that people who have prolonged or heavy coughing symptoms promptly consult a doctor."

(Japanese original by Sooryeon Kim, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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