Flesh-Eating Bacteria Cases Surge in Japan Post-COVID

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Cases Surge in Japan Post-COVID

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Cases Surge in Japan Post-COVID

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Japan faces a worrying rise in deadly flesh-eating bacterial infections, linked to eased COVID-19 restrictions.

17 June 2024 

Medical workers in Japan are on high alert due to the surge in STSS cases.

Japan is experiencing a significant increase in cases of a rare but deadly bacterial infection called Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS), following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, according to a Bloomberg report.

This infection, caused by Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria, can kill within 48 hours of infection. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases reports nearly 1,000 cases this year, surpassing last year’s total.

Dr. Jagadish Hiremath, a public health expert, explains, “STSS progresses rapidly, causing high fever, severe pain, low blood pressure, and potential organ failure. The bacteria produce toxins that cause severe inflammation and tissue damage, leading to rapid tissue necrosis and shock.” Experts attribute the rise in cases to increased social interactions as COVID-19 restrictions have eased. This has led to a general rise in GAS infections, particularly affecting people over 50, who are more vulnerable to severe outcomes.

Dr. Hiremath emphasizes the global risk, noting that international travel could spread STSS beyond Japan. “Good hygiene, like regular hand washing and prompt treatment of skin injuries, is crucial. Early signs such as sudden severe pain, high fever, and redness at a wound site should prompt immediate medical attention,” he advises.

Japan’s health authorities are actively monitoring the situation and raising public awareness about STSS symptoms. Hospitals are on alert to swiftly identify and treat cases, while enhanced hygiene practices are being promoted to reduce transmission and mortality.

“Other countries can learn from Japan’s approach,” says Dr. Hiremath. “Educating healthcare providers and the public about recognizing early symptoms and seeking timely medical care is very important.” Public health measures, including surveillance and quick responses to new cases, are essential to contain the spread of this dangerous infection.