Article by
Dani Reiter

Rubella Also Attended Japan’s G20 Summit

Japan's Rubella outbreak puts pregnant women’s unborn infants at risk

Japan tourists taking photos of G20 event

The head of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has been diagnosed with the rubella virus, after attending the Group of 20 Summit in Japan on June 28, 2019. 

According to reporting by the Japan Times, this JBIC official may have mingled with other under-vaccinated G20 attendees during the 2-day. 

“We cannot disclose protected health information out of consideration for the relationship with the people he met,” the JBIC spokesman was reported to have said. 

This bank executive’s rubella case is part of the ongoing outbreak in Japan, which reached 1,896 cases on July 3, 2019.   

The city of Tokyo has reported 35 percent of Japan’s rubella cases in 2019. 

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 they were living or traveling outside the United States, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

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. 

Rubella is usually mild in children. Complications are not common, but they occur more often in adults. In rare cases, rubella can cause serious problems, including brain infections and bleeding problems. 

But, if unborn babies are infected through their mothers in the early stages of pregnancy, they can suffer birth defects including impaired hearing, cataracts, and heart disorders, says the CDC.

 

Between 2005-2015, eight babies with Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) were reported in the United States. 

CRS is a very serious condition that occurs in a developing baby in the womb whose mother is infected with the rubella virus. Pregnant women who contract rubella are at risk for miscarriage or stillbirth, and their developing babies are at risk for severe birth defects with devastating, lifelong consequences.   

CRS can affect almost everything in the developing baby’s body. 

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These health risks are why the Canadian Government and CDC continue issuing Level 2 Travel Alerts for Japan. 

As of June 6, 2019, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends ‘that pregnant women who are not protected against rubella either through vaccination or previous rubella infection, avoid traveling to Japan.’   

This warning is especially important during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

Additionally, the CDC said in its March 2019 Travel Alert, ‘travelers to Japan should ensure they are vaccinated against rubella with the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) before traveling abroad.' 

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

>> Confirm your 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 and measles news

To respond to the ongoing worldwide measles outbreak, the CDC published an updated digital application on July 1, 2019, that enables international travelers to quickly and privately self-qualify an assessment whether or not they need a measles vaccination before departure. 

This digital app evaluates all available evidence and updates vaccination recommendations as new information becomes available.

As of July 1, 2019, the CDC updated its private sector vaccine prices for general information. And, the CDC’s Vaccines For Children program offers vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay. 

Additional financial support programs can be found at Vaccine Discounts. 

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report vaccine side effects to the CDC.