The National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported Tuesday that Rubella in Japan has reached 10,000 cases early this month. As of June 9, there were 10,102 cases in the country, four times higher than last year’s 2,392 cases. The Institute reported last month that 5,000 cases were recorded in the first four months of 2013. That implies that the past two months have easily doubled the number of cases.
The latest week’s cases were highest in Osaka and Tokyo Prefectures with new 129 and 82 cases, respectively. Mapping the spread of the virus may no longer be based on prefecture proximity, as both prefectures are separated by the Chubu Region, or central Japan. With about 800 cases every seven days during the earlier weeks, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases should’ve reckoned its effect with such escalating cases. The epidemic has been more prevalent among men from 20 to 40 years old, amounting to 75 percent of the cases.
Also known as German Measles or Three-Day Measles, Rubella is considered a mild infection except for those who are pregnant. The virus, when caught by someone pregnant, may cause severe congenital complications like growth and mental retardation, deafness, and heart defects among others. Rubella may also cause stillbirth. The symptoms of Rubella are not easily noticed and may be mistaken as those of flu so pregnant women are always told to take precautions especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.
A call for the government to fund anti-rubella vaccine has been raised. However, Norihisa Tamura of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare said that Japan’s Rubella cases, the 10,000 cases as of June, are “not overwhelmingly larger” compared to other infectious diseases. Adults, especially those with immunization, may be able to survive the virus but given Rubella’s symptoms almost similar to other communicable diseases, pregnant women and little children are likely to be at risk. Something as simple as MMR vaccines will be helpful to Japan’s little and unborn children. It may even help preserve the country’s future population.