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Increasing Numbers of Syphilis Cases in Japan

08 Jan 2018

On 5 January 2018, the Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported via media Link 5 543 syphilis cases in Japan. This is an increase of 23% from the 2016 total of 4 518. The reason fo the increase in unclear and the increase is notable in women aged 20 to 29. Of the total number of cases, 1 705 (31%) were reported in Tokyo.

Advice to Travellers

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It produces an initially painless genital ulcer. A rash on the body, hands and feets appears later.The infection is treated with antibiotics.

If untreated, one in three infections will result in systemic disease that may involve the skin, eyes and nervous system. Fatal brain disease may result in some cases. All sexually active travellers are potentially at risk of STIs.

Unprotected sex during travel is common, particularly in younger, male, single travellers who are travelling on business, in the military or on extended trips. Drugs and alcohol increase the risk of high risk sexual behaviour and hence STIs.

Travellers should be aware of sexual health risk reduction.