About 10 days ago, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel advisory for Japan due to the outbreak in the country, particularly in in Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

According to the latest data from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan, the total cases have reached 1,486 through Oct. 24.

In Tokyo, 509 cases have been reported and along with Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures, nearly 1,000 cases have been reported alone, or about two-thirds of all cases.

According to a report from Yuko Aizawa with NHK-World Japan, men in their 30s, 40s and 50s are the most heavily affected group.

Why men?

Aizawa writes:

Health regulations in place from 1977 to 1995 required only that junior high school girls be vaccinated for rubella, making boys of those generations, now between the ages of 30 and 60, vulnerable to infection.

Japanese health officials  are recommending vaccination for all males in the relevant age groups who have never had the virus, or have no record of vaccination.

Rubella, or German measles infection in people is typically mild. However, in pregnant women, rubella can cause death or birth defects such as cataracts, deafness, glaucoma, and heart, lung and brain abnormalities in an unborn baby (fetus) during the first few months of pregnancy.

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Rubella is a highly contagious disease. People who are infected with rubella are infectious from 1 week before to at least 4 days after the rash appears. It is transmitted through airborne droplet or close contact with the patient, but it is vaccine-preventable.

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