Japan raises alarm as deadly ‘flesh-eating disease’ spreads at record levels

Japan raises alarm as deadly ‘flesh-eating disease’ spreads at record levels
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Carl Samson
17 days ago
Tokyo has issued a health warning amid a significant rise in cases of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), a rare but severe — and deadly — bacterial infection that has been plaguing Japan for months.
Key points:
  • STSS, also known as “flesh-eating disease,” is characterized by fever, pain and swelling in the limbs, with severe cases leading to organ failure and necrosis.
  • The bacterial disease is transmitted through respiratory droplets and direct contact. Regular hand washing and proper wound care are strongly advised to prevent its spread.
The details:
  • Caused by the group A streptococcus bacteria, STSS is characterized by fever, pain and swelling in the limbs. In severe cases, it can lead to organ failure and necrosis of the connective tissues, hence its layman name “flesh-eating disease.”
  • STSS is transmitted through respiratory droplets and direct contact, such as via open wounds. The disease has a mortality rate of up to 30%.
  • As of March 17, Tokyo recorded 88 cases, surpassing half of last year’s total of 141 cases and 42 deaths, the Japan Times reported. Nationwide, the total was 517.
  • STSS can affect anyone at any age, but it has been more common among those 30 and above. A notable rise was observed among those 40 and older last year.
  • The recent surge has been linked to the M1UK strain, a highly transmissible variant of the group A streptococcus. Some experts say the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and reduced adherence to preventive measures may have contributed to the increase in cases, as per The Guardian.
What’s next:
  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has urged those experiencing STSS symptoms to seek immediate medical attention. Basic preventive measures like regular hand washing and proper wound care are strongly advised to counter the spread.
  • Citing a “malignant infectious disease,” North Korea canceled a rare soccer match with Japan set for Pyongyang on Tuesday. Meanwhile, South Korea cautioned travelers to Japan about the risks of STSS.
 
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