Japan Battles Deadly STSS Outbreak as Cases Exceed 1,000

Japan Battles Deadly STSS Outbreak as Cases Exceed 1,000

Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome Outbreak in Japan

Japan is facing a serious outbreak of fulminant streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), with the number of cases exceeding 1,000 since January. This surpasses the total number of cases reported in 2023, which was the highest since data became available in 1999.

The outbreak shows no signs of slowing down. As of June 9, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported 1,019 cases, already surpassing the 941 cases reported in all of 2023.

Streptococcus bacteria can cause various illnesses, including pharyngitis (strep throat) and the more severe STSS. While pharyngitis is a common childhood illness, STSS is a life-threatening condition that can cause rapid necrosis and multiple organ failure. The fatality rate for STSS is estimated at 30%, making it a significant public health concern.

Experts believe the current outbreak is caused by the "M1UK strain," a highly toxic and infectious strain of group A streptococcus. This strain has been responsible for outbreaks in other countries, including the UK, and is believed to have entered Japan from overseas.

The Ministry of Health has urged the public to take basic infection control measures, such as washing hands, wearing masks, and keeping injuries clean, to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

While the exact link between streptococcus and STSS is unknown, the increase in pharyngitis cases is believed to be contributing to the rise in STSS cases. The Ministry continues to monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available.