The CDC is warning travelers going to Japan to get vaccinated against rubella, due to the high number of reported cases.


In the last few weeks, Japan has faced a rubella outbreak, with over 900 cases reported. This brings the total for the year to 1,289 cases. Also known as “German measles,” the disease is spread through sneezing and coughing of an infected person. Signs of the virus include a rash and fever lasting two-three days.


Most cases have been reported in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, in the Kanto region. By comparison, last year there were only 93 reported cases.


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The CDC has advised pregnant women to avoid going to Japan entirely during this outbreak. Rubella can be hazardous not only for the woman but also for the growing baby. Rubella is particularly dangerous for a pregnant woman and her developing baby. Congenital disabilities such as deafness, cataracts (blurred vision), heart defects, mental disabilities and organ damage can all be side effects of the virus for the unborn child. Women who contract the virus during the early stages of pregnancy run the risk of a miscarriage or stillbirth.


Travelers should confirm with their doctor that they’ve received the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine before flying to Japan.


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Here’s how travelers can protect themselves if traveling to Japan soon:

  • Make sure you are fully vaccinated against rubella.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Infants between 6-11 months of age should have one dose of the MMR vaccine.
  • Adults and children one year of age or older should have two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.