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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Rubella in Japan (Update)

20 Mar 2013

The outbreak of rubella that began in July 2012, has continued into 2013, and high numbers of new cases are being reported. Tokyo is one of the worst affected areas and more than 100 new rubella cases have been reported weekly over several weeks. As of 13 March 2013, 1656 cases have been recorded.

A case of encephalitis (a complication of rubella) was reported in a 25-year-old man in Tokyo in February 2013; this is the second case to be reported since the outbreak began.

In March 2013, a case of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) was reported from Aichi prefecture in central Japan. This is the 7th case of CRS to be reported in Japan since the beginning of the outbreak.

An urgent immunisation campaign has been implemented in an attempt to control the outbreak.

Advice for Travellers

Rubella infection has serious consequences for the unborn child if acquired by a woman during pregnancy. It should be confirmed that children have received their recommended doses of MMR at 12-15 months of age and again pre-school around 3 years 6 months, while unimmunised adults who have not had the disease themselves may consider vaccination if thought to be at risk. Two doses of MMR vaccine are required to give adequate protection.