CDC warns on increase of rubella cases in Japan

COMPLICATIONS::Vaccination coverage in Japan has been suboptimal, with 7,540 cases of rubella infection reported this year, according to Taiwan’s CDC

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Jun 09, 2013 - Page 3

As the outbreak of rubella in Japan shows no signs of relenting, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised the public to receive measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations before traveling to Japan.

The vaccination coverage in Japan has been suboptimal, and rubella, or German measles, which started last year has continued to thrive, with infections reported every week, the CDC said.

According to the CDC, 7,540 cases of rubella infection have been reported in Japan as of the 20th week of this year, three times as much as the total number (2,394) reported last year and 10 times the four-year (2009 to last year) average of 751 cases.

The CDC’s data showed that more Japanese men than women have been infected with the disease and people in the 20-to-49 age group have been the most susceptible, the agency said, adding that most patients have not been vaccinated against rubella or have an unclear immunization history.

Ten pregnant women have contracted rubella since the outbreak in Japan, the CDC said, resulting in newborns suffering from congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), a disease that can cause severe birth defects such as sensorineural deafness, glaucoma, cataracts, learning disabilities and heart disease.

It cautioned pregnant women who have not been vaccinated and children under the age of one against traveling to Japan and advised preschoolers who have not completed the full vaccine series and those who will be in contact with pregnant women and children under one year old after coming back from Japan to visit travel clinics two to four weeks before traveling abroad to inquire about personalized recommendations on vaccination.