Rubella in Japan
Released: December 07, 2018
Japan is experiencing an outbreak of rubella. Since the beginning of 2018, Japan has reported over 2000 cases of rubella. The highest number of cases has been reported in the Kanto region, in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama prefectures.
Rubella is very serious for a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
Rubella and Pregnancy
If a pregnant woman catches rubella, it can cause serious health complications for her unborn baby.
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.
- 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
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.
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