Its not often that you think about those “childhood illnesses” affecting adults however in a world where many do not vaccinate their children, these old childhood illnesses are raising their heads up again. Japan is in the middle of a “hot Rubella” (German measles) nationwide epidemic.
Rubella usually is a mild, febrile rash illness in children and adults; however, infection early in pregnancy, particularly during the first 16 weeks, can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or an infant born with birth defects (i.e., congenital rubella syndrome. Spontaneous abortion occurs in up to 20% of cases.
So you say, you have no plans to travel to Japan so this doesn’t affect you? Think again! The effects of this outbreak have been wide-ranging, both within Japan and internationally. In the Region of the Americas, where endemic rubella virus transmission has been interrupted, importations have occurred in the United States and Canada in 2013. The international spread of rubella virus from Japan provides a reminder that countries in regions that have eliminated rubella need to maintain high levels of vaccination coverage and high-quality surveillance to limit the spread and detect imported rubella virus.
Check your (and your family’s) vaccination status.