Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Japan - Japan urges precautions amid noroviruses spreading

With signs of an outbreak of infectious gastroenteritis mainly caused by widespread noroviruses, Japan's health ministry has been urging special precautions among children and elderly people, who are more susceptible to severe symptoms.

The average number of confirmed infectious gastroenteritis cases stood at 19.62 per medical institution for the week from December 3 to 9, marking the season's highest figure, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, which receives reports from about 3,000 hospitals and clinics with paediatric departments nationwide.

The highest figure in the past decade was in 2006.

The virus spreading this winter is a mutant strain of noroviruses that can easily bypass the immune system, the institute said. The same strain is believed to be spreading around the world.

A 84-year-old male patient who was in a hospital in Taketa, Oita Prefecture, as well as two other patients in their 80s and 90s who were in a hospital in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, died of the virus earlier this month. There was also a mass outbreak of food poisoning involving more than 1,000 people in Hiroshima.

While the epidemic has been more noticeable in western Japan, mass infection also has been confirmed in some cities in eastern Japan, such as in Shizuoka Prefecture, and Hokkaido.

News Desk

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