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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rubella in Japan - increasing incidence

A ProMED-mail post
Archive Number: 20130319.1594293
Date: Wed 20 Mar 2013
From: M. Ujie [edited]

A Rubella pandemic has continued in Japan. Especially in Tokyo, the number of reported rubella cases in a week has exceeded 100 cases over several weeks. According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, as of week 10, 2013 (as of 13 Mar 2013), 1656 rubella patients have been reported. This number is still rapidly increasing and reaching to 2353 which is the number of rubella cases reported by prefecture and methods of diagnosis in week 52, 2012 (as of 8 Jan 2013).

In February 2013, a 25-year-old man who had generalized seizure with fever and rash was diagnosed with rubella encephalitis by the detection of rubella virus from throat swab and seroconversion of IgM antibodies at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine hospital in Tokyo. Rubella is known to potentially cause serious complications such as encephalitis. This is the second reported case of encephalitis due to rubella in Japan since last summer.

Moreover, in the 10th week of 2013, a second case of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) was reported from Aichi prefecture which is located around the middle of Japan. In total 7 cases of CRS has been reported since the beginning of this epidemic of rubella last year [2012].

Generally, rubella is [more common] in the spring to summer. So the number of patients in the future likely will continue to increase. The Tokyo Prefectural Government on 14 Mar 2013 decided to pay a part of the cost of rubella vaccination in adults aged over 19 years old as emergent preventive measures against this epidemic. Urgent vaccinations against rubella needs to be promoted for all of people who have never had rubella before and have not been immunized against it. 

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