Level 2 Travel Alert Reaffirmed For Japan’s Rubella Epidemic
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reaffirmed it's Level 2 Travel Alert for Japan, where there is an ongoing rubella outbreak.
This March 11, 2019 Travel Alert, ‘Practice Enhanced Precaution’, says ‘travelers to Japan should ensure they are vaccinated against rubella with the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) or the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccines before visiting Japan.
And most importantly, pregnant women should avoid traveling to Japan during this outbreak if not protected against rubella, through either vaccination or previous rubella infection, says the CDC.
This is especially important during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
When a rubella infection occurs during early pregnancy, serious consequences—such as miscarriages, stillbirths, and severe birth defects in infants congenital rubella syndrome, CRS—can result.
Since the start of 2019, there have been approximately 650 confirmed rubella cases. Many of these cases have been in large metropolitan areas including Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Osaka, and Fukuoka Prefectures.
During 2018, Japan reported a total of 2,917 rubella cases.
The initial CDC Travel Alert for Japan regarding this rubella outbreak was issued on October 22, 2018.
The Japan rubella epidemic is mainly affecting men from their late 30s to early 50s. This is because, between August 1977 and March 1995, the rubella vaccine was only given to girls.
With a change in vaccination policy, Japanese boys began receiving rubella vaccinations during April 1995.
Rubella, also called German measles, is a disease spread by the coughs and sneezes of infected people. Symptoms include rash and fever for 2–3 days.
In the USA, there are 2 approved rubella vaccines, MMR-II, and ProQuad available at most pharmacies.
American travelers to Japan can request a rubella vaccine appointment at Vax-Before-Travel.
Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.