Japan is on target to set a record in syphilis cases this year, possibly topping 10,000 cases in 2022 if cases grow at the current pace.
As of July 27, Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported 6385 total syphilis cases.
Tokyo has reported 1881 cases year to date, followed by 805 cases in Osaka.
In 2017, Japan saw 5,534 syphilis cases, the first time that happened in more than 4 decades.
This was followed by 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.
In 2021, the country reported 7,873 syphilis cases, the highest number of cases in years.
Syphilis was a major issue 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.
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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.
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