Rubella in Japan
Updated: May 10, 2019
- Current situation update.
Original publication date: December 7, 2018
Japan is experiencing an outbreak of rubella. The highest number of cases have been reported in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Osaka prefectures.
Rubella and pregnancy
If a pregnant woman catches rubella, it can cause serious health complications for her unborn baby. The rubella vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.
Pregnant women should discuss travel plans with their health care professional to ensure they are protected before travelling. Pregnant women who are not protected against rubella either through vaccination or previous rubella infection should avoid travelling to Japan during this outbreak. This is especially important during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Rubella is a highly contagious disease caused by the rubella virus. It most often affects children.
Rubella can be spread from an infected person to other people in different ways, including:
- direct contact, such as kissing
- through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes
- from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn baby
Some people infected with rubella will not show any symptoms. For others, symptoms of rubella are often mild and may include:
- a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body
- a low-grade fever (under 39 °C)
- inflammation of the lining of the eye (conjunctivitis)
- swollen glands behind the ears and neck
- aching joints
Travellers are at an increased risk of rubella infection if they:
- have not been fully immunized
- have never had rubella
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel.
1) Get vaccinated for rubella
Rubella can be prevented with a vaccine. In Canada, the rubella vaccine is part of the routine immunization schedule. Travellers should make sure their rubella vaccination is up-to-date, regardless of their travel destination.
- Infants and children
- One dose of rubella-containing vaccine should be given at 12 to 15 months of age.
- Adolescents and adults
- Adolescents and adults who do not have proof of receiving a rubella-containing vaccine on or after their first birthday or proof of immunity should receive one dose of rubella-containing vaccine.
- The rubella-containing vaccine is not recommended for women during pregnancy. It is important for women of reproductive age to make sure they have immunity prior to becoming pregnant. It is recommended that pregnant women who are not immune, avoid travel to areas with current rubella outbreaks.
- You may be protected against rubella if
- You have documented proof of vaccination with a rubella-containing vaccine on or after your first birthday.
- You have proof of immunity (e.g. through blood testing).
2) Avoid travel for non-immune pregnant women
- Pregnant women who are not protected against rubella either through vaccination or previous rubella infection should avoid travelling to Japan during this outbreak. This is especially important during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- If travel cannot be avoided, discuss your plans with a health care professional for further assessment and advice.
3) Monitor your health
- See a health care professional if you develop symptoms of rubella when travelling or after you return to Canada:
- Alert the health care professional about your symptoms before your appointment, so they can take proper precautions.
- Tell the health care professional which countries you have visited.
- Avoid close contact with other people to reduce the chance of infecting others if you:
- have symptoms of rubella
- have been exposed to someone who has rubella
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