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英語:“Measles outbreak in Okinawa ahead of ‘Golden Week’ holidays prompts health warnings”

Popular vacation spot Okinawa Prefecture is suffering an outbreak of the highly contagious measles virus ahead of the “Golden Week” holiday period and health authorities are urging the public to get vaccinated.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced on April 24 that there were 67 measles patients this year nationwide as of April 18, 46 of which were confirmed in Okinawa Prefecture. It is thought that the virus may have entered Japan via travelers coming from Taiwan. According to the Okinawa Prefectural Government, as of April 23 the number of cases there had risen to 70.

A teenage boy returning to Aichi Prefecture from a trip to Okinawa was diagnosed with measles on April 11, and as of April 24, a total of four people had been reported infected with the virus at the two medical institutions where he was examined in what appeared to be an in-hospital infection — prompting warnings for at-risk groups to postpone their trips. Among those infected are a hospital staff member and a 1-year-old baby girl.

The measles virus can be transmitted via air, and is more contagious than influenza that can be passed on by airborne moisture from things like sneezing. Over 90 percent of individuals with no immunity to the virus are said to develop measles once they are infected with the virus, making it extremely contagious. There is a danger of the virus spreading quickly via airports, train stations, event venues, medical institutions and other areas where a large number of people gather. In 2016, many workers and travelers were infected at Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture, and patients emerged all over Japan.

Ten to 12 days following exposure, patients run a fever and start coughing before the rash and high fever develops. The virus can be deadly if the symptoms worsen. The best way to prevent infection is to receive the measles and rubella (MR) shot. In Japan, infants can get the vaccine for free, but there are also people who reach adulthood without ever being inoculated.

Ahead of the long Golden Week holidays, the Okinawa Prefectural Government has posted a list of questions and answers for tourists on the prefectural website. The prefecture recommends checking vaccination records and if the number of boosters is not sufficient, to get the shot again before heading to Okinawa. Children aged 1 and younger and pregnant women who have not received the vaccine twice and are at risk of miscarriages or premature births are advised to postpone their trips all together for safety reasons and visit the islands once the situation has improved.

At Navitas Clinic in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, since the outbreak of the virus was announced, the number of people requesting vaccinations has ballooned to 10 people per day — close to five times the normal amount. The clinic says that there are people traveling to Okinawa or husbands worried about their pregnant wives becoming infected.

“The most effective way to prevent infection is to get vaccinated,” said clinic director and physician Eiji Kusumi. “In order to protect pregnant women and other susceptible groups in society, I would like everyone to get vaccinated, not just travelers.”

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日本語:“はしか、沖縄厳戒 流行拡大 「来県に注意」「接種を」”

 大型連休中に多くの観光客が訪れる沖縄で、強い感染力のある麻疹(はしか)の流行が続いている。沖縄旅行帰りの人が受診した医療機関で感染が広がった例も愛知県で報告されており、沖縄県はリスクが高い0歳児やワクチン未接種の妊婦の来訪延期を勧めている。

 国立感染症研究所が24日発表した全国の今年の患者数(18日まで)は67人。うち46人が沖縄県での発生で、台湾からの旅行客を介してウイルスが入ってきたと考えられる。同県によると、23日現在で患者は70人に増えている。

 愛知県内では沖縄旅行から帰ってきた10代男性が11日にはしかと診断され、24日までに男性が受診した2医療機関での院内感染とみられる計4人の感染が報告された。うち1人は病院の職員、1人は1歳女児だった。

 空気感染するはしかは、くしゃみなどの飛沫(ひまつ)でうつるインフルエンザなどと比べ、感染力が非常に強い。空港や駅、イベント会場、医療機関など人の集まる場所で感染が一気に広がる恐れがあり、2016年には関西国際空港で多数の従業員や利用者が感染して各地で患者が見つかった。

 沖縄県は大型連休を控え、ウェブサイトに観光客向けQ&Aを掲載。ワクチン接種歴の確認と、回数が足りなければ接種してからの来訪を勧めた上で、1歳未満の子や2回のワクチン接種を受けておらず流産や早産の恐れのある妊婦については「流行が終息してからお越しいただいた方が安全」と呼び掛けている。

 東京・新宿の「ナビタスクリニック新宿」では、流行が報じられてからワクチン希望者が通常の5倍近い1日10人程度に増加。沖縄への旅行客や、妊娠中の妻への感染を心配した男性らが接種に訪れるという。久住英二医師は「感染を防ぐにはワクチンが最も有効。妊婦など社会的弱者を守るためにも、旅行者に限らず接種してほしい」と話す。

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