Health officials in Japan reported 7,873 syphilis cases in 2021, the highest number of cases in years. According to the Japan National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo reported 2,436 cases, followed by 852 cases in Osaka and 422 cases in Aichi.
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.
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.
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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