Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases stated this week that over 5,000 cases of the disease rubella have been reported in the first four months of the year alone, more than double that of all of 2012. The Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry previously noted that the largest concentration of cases was in men from their 20s to 40s in Tokyo and the surrounding areas, and now the government is increasing its efforts to promote vaccination among those without immunity.
As of April 28th, there were 5,442 instances of the disease, also known as German Measles, reported, while all of last year only 2,392. The institute added that there were 526 new cases in that last week of April, as well as over 500 more in the first week of May. Mostly in-line with the Health Ministry’s assessment in March, the week of April 22nd to 28th saw the most new cases of rubella were found in Osaka, with 135 reported, while Tokyo had 124, 61 in Kanagawa, and 43 in Hyogo Prefecture.
With 39,000 people contracting the disease that year, 2004 stands as the record high in Japan, while in 2008 the government began requiring the report of all cases of rubella. Health experts say this new rise in number is attributed to roughly 15% of men and women in their 20s to 40s not being vaccinated and therefore lacking immunity. They also warn women in the early stages of pregnancy should be careful, for contraction of congenital rubella syndrome in fetuses can lead to conditions including problems with sight and hearing, along with heart disease.