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Japan measles outbreak hits 41 cases, foreign strain accounting for majority

More than 40 employees at Kansai International Airport have contract measles over the past month
More than 40 employees at Kansai International Airport have contract measles over the past month

TOKYO (TR) – There were nine more cases of measles since last week, bringing the total number of people with the virus to 41, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) announced on Tuesday.

Officials are investigating reports of several cases breaking out at a Justin Bieber concert held in Chiba Prefecture last month as well as among workers at Kansai International Airport, TV Asahi reports (September 6).

The figure for the outbreak at the airport is expected to rise since numerous cases have yet to be reported to the health center, CBnews reported.

The latest total has already surpassed the 35 cases of measles logged in the last one-year period, local media reported.

By administrative district, Chiba Prefeture currently holds the highest number of cases at 12, followed by Tokyo and Hyogo Prefecture with 6 each, Saitama and Osaka Prefecture with 3 each, and Mie Prefecture with 2, according to CBnews.

Foreign strain D8

The World Health Organization announced that Japan eradicated measles in March 2015 after a measles outbreak seven years earlier infected more than 10,000 people.

Japan had met a WHO requirement which mandated that domestic cases be brought under control for over three years aside. Cases contracted overseas are excluded from the requirement.

But a foreign strain of measles known as D8 has seen Japan face a constant stream of imported measles cases since the start of this year, with the strain accounting for 60 percent of domestic cases as of Sunday, according to the NIID.

The Japanese Society for Infection Prevention and Control said that there could be more “measles outbreaks in various locations in the future,” urging medical institutions to report cases to the NIID to receive advice on treatment and follow-up care.

If a doctor suspects an individual with rash or high fever has measles, the society is urging them to examine their vaccination and travel records and aim for an early diagnosis, as well as quarantine any infected patients and implement airborne infection control.

Measles is a highly contagious airborne disease. Symptoms usually develop 10 days after exposure.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is urging citizens to quickly seek medical attention if symptoms like high fever and a rash start to appear.