CDC Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Article by
Dani Reiter
Updated
September 16th, 2019

Rubella Travel Alert Affirmed For Japan

Japan visitors should consider MMR or Proquad rubella vaccination

tokyo japan city

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirmed it’s Level 2 Travel Alert regarding Japan’s ongoing Rubella virus outbreak

This ‘Practice Enhanced Precautions’ Travel Alert on August 7, 2019, says ‘travelers to Japan should make sure they are vaccinated against rubella with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine before visiting Japan.

As of July 3, 2019, 1,896 rubella cases had been confirmed in Japan.

Previous news reports indicated the city of Tokyo has reported 35 percent of Japan’s rubella cases in 2019.

This Travel Alert is important since approximately 4.5 million USA citizens visit Japan annually.

Furthermore, rubella is very dangerous for a pregnant woman and developing babies. Rubella infections can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, severe birth defects, and congenital rubella syndrome, (CRS).

Pregnant women who are not protected against rubella through either vaccination or previous rubella infection, should not travel to Japan during this outbreak, says the CDC.

In the USA, less than 10 people are reported as having rubella each year. Since 2012, people diagnosed with rubella showed evidence that they were infected when living or traveling outside the USA, says the CDC. 

Between 2005-2015, eight babies impacted by CRS were reported in the USA. 

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Rubella, also known as German measles, is easily spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease is most contagious when the infected person has a rash. 

But it can spread up to 7 days before the rash appears and up to 7 days after. People without symptoms can still spread rubella. Once infected, it takes about 3-weeks for skin spots, fever, and other rubella symptoms to show.

The CDC says pregnant women should:

  • Talk with their healthcare providers before traveling to Japan to check whether they are protected against rubella and whether it is advisable to travel
  • Avoid traveling to Japan during this outbreak if not protected against rubella, through either vaccination or previous rubella infection. This is especially important during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy
  • Get vaccinated after they have given birth if they are not already protected against rubella

Additionally, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the UK Foreign Travel Advice recommend ‘pregnant women who are not protected against rubella avoid traveling to Japan.’

>>  Confirm Rubella Immunity at UltaLabs  << 

In the USA, there are 2 approved rubella vaccines, MMR II-Rubella and ProQuad. Both rubella vaccines are available at most pharmacies. 

American travelers to Japan can request a rubella vaccine counseling appointment at Vax-Before-Travel.

Rubella prevention vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report vaccine side effects to a healthcare provider or the CDC.