Since our last report on the Japanese syphilis situation in mid-July 2021, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo reported more than 1300 additional cases, including 100 cases in just the week ending August 25.
This brings the cumulative total to 4349 syphilis cases through the end of August.
To date in 2021, the prefectures reporting the most cases include Tokyo (1433), Osaka (446), Aichi (218), Fukuoka (197) and Kanagawa (172).
Japan reported more than 5,000 syphilis cases three years straight and two consecutive years with more than 6,000 cases–Prior to 2018, the last time Japan saw more than 6,000 syphilis cases was 48 years ago.
Syphilis was rampant in Japan until shortly after the end of World War II, but the total reported cases declined to several hundred annually until 2011, when a rebound began.
Syphilis is a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) that can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly. Symptoms of syphilis in adults include a painless sore that will go away without treatment followed by a non-itchy body rash. If left untreated syphilis can lead to damage through the body including neurological and cardiovascular complications. Syphilis also increases the risk of HIV infection and, for women, can cause problems during pregnancy and for the newborn.