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Japan warns on surge in potentially deadly strep throat cases

Japan warns on surge in potentially deadly strep throat cases

Infections of streptococcus bacteria being diagnosed at quadruple the pace of the past five years

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese health authorities have warned about a jump in potentially deadly strep throat infections, with cases running about three times higher than last year in Tokyo.

Across the country, infections of streptococcus bacteria of the throat are being diagnosed at quadruple the pace of the past five years, according to a health ministry report earlier this month.

Through March 10, Japan recorded 474 cases of the more serious streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (SSTS), which has a fatality rate of up to 30 per cent. This syndrome happens when the infection spreads throughout the body, potentially causing organ failure.

The disease is not a respiratory illness like pneumonia or COVID-19, so it is unlikely to lead to a pandemic situation, said Hitoshi Honda, an infectious disease professor at Fujita Health University.

"This is a droplet infection," Honda said. "Hand hygiene is extremely important for preventing invasive streptococcal infections."

The surge in cases reportedly led the North Korean soccer team to abruptly cancel a World Cup qualifier match in Japan last week.