Signs of measles outbreak in Japan

Japan may be experiencing a measles outbreak, with the number of infected people this year surpassing the totals reported in each of the past two years.

Measles is a viral infection that causes fever, coughing and rashes. Nearly all of those without immunity to it will develop symptoms when infected.

The virus can also trigger pneumonia or encephalitis, leading to serious illness or even death.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases on Tuesday released preliminary data showing that seven cases of measles have been confirmed across Japan this year as of May 14.

Three of the cases were in Tokyo, and there was one each in Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Niigata and Osaka prefectures.

Two of the Tokyo cases and the one in Niigata were confirmed in the week through May 14.

Japan had six cases of measles each in 2021 and 2022, as overseas travel had declined during the coronavirus pandemic.

Measles is spreading in Asia and elsewhere. Last month, a man who had returned from India was found to be infected, as were two people who were on the same Shinkansen bullet train as him.

Local governments in Japan are urging caution by disclosing the means of public transportation used by infected individuals.

Kitasato University Professor Nakayama Tetsuo says there have been few cases of measles in recent years, but there are now signs of an outbreak.

He is urging the public to be reminded of the risks of measles and undergo antibody testing or vaccination.