Rising Cases of Streptococcal Infections in Japan Prompt Concerns and Investigations

Rising Cases of Streptococcal Infections in Japan Prompt Concerns and Investigations

Japan, Infectious diseases, streptococcal infections, Asia Pacific, news

Health officials in Japan are facing a surge in streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS) cases, with a 30% fatality rate, prompting concerns and a race to identify the cause. The number of cases in 2024 is expected to surpass last year's record numbers, raising alarms about the spread of this rare but dangerous bacterial infection.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) has expressed concerns about the rapid rise in severe and sudden forms of streptococcus, with officials struggling to explain the mechanisms behind the surge. The presence of highly virulent and infectious strains in Japan has further compounded the challenge of containing the spread of STSS.

The provisional figures released by the NIID revealed a significant increase in STSS cases, with 941 reported cases last year and 378 cases recorded in the first two months of 2024, affecting nearly all of Japan's 47 prefectures. Notably, the infection is leading to more deaths among patients under 50, indicating a shift in the demographic impact of the disease.

Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, primarily caused by streptococcus pyogenes, can lead to severe health complications and even death, particularly in adults over 30. The infection can manifest as sore throats, pneumonia, and meningitis, with the potential to progress to organ failure and necrosis. Experts have highlighted the need for urgent control measures to address the escalating cases of severe invasive streptococcal infections.

Some experts believe that the rapid rise in cases may be linked to the relaxation of restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reclassification of COVID-19's status in 2023 may have led to a decrease in preventive measures, potentially contributing to the surge in streptococcal infections.

The health ministry in Japan has emphasized the importance of basic hygiene precautions against streptococcal infections, urging the public to maintain cleanliness and practice cough etiquette to mitigate the spread of the disease.

News Agencies

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