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Flu cases increasing rapidly across Japan; Tokai hard hit

38 Comments

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is calling on children and the elderly to take extra precautions to guard against a virulent strain of the influenza virus that is currently spreading throughout Japan.

Reported cases of the virus, which is sometimes known as Hong Kong flu, are currently on the increase in the Tokai area, NHK reported. In the second week of January, the average number of reported cases per medical institution rose to 23.82 in Gifu Prefecture, 22.63 in Aichi Prefecture, and 21.92 in Mie Prefecture, the ministry said.

The ministry added that the Hong Kong flu strain accounted for 90% of cases recorded since Dec 5, and that reports of the swine flu virus had dramatically decreased. It added that the Hong Kong strain poses a particular danger to young children and the elderly.

The ministry said that it expects reported cases of the virus to peak in the first half of next month and called upon children and the elderly to take extra care to wash their hands thoroughly and to wear surgical face masks in an attempt to minimize the spread of the disease.

The Hong Kong Flu pandemic of 1968 and 1969 killed up to 750,000 humans and was caused by Avian influenza virus H3N2. The virus's measured resistance to the standard antiviral drugs amantadine and rimantadine in humans increased to 91% in 2005.

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38 Comments
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will bring seasonal business for medical clinics.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I've been in me bed for two days...I couldn't afford a "brand type" so I got a no brand type.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I just wish more people here in Japan would stop sneezing and coughing all over the place.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Glad I got my flu shot!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

No flu-shots this end and we are doing great.

Not fond of the flu-shots as they only give protection for the 2 most common flu strains. As for the rest you are just as unprotected.

Why pay x.000yen for a shot that might or not protect me?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The type going around is the most common type A, which is included in the flu vaccine. The flu feels like living hell..I would pay if there is a chance to not get it, or if the symptoms are less severe if contracted..worth it to me.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

zichi, get well soon.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

O DAIJI NI to all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just getting over this in Kimiidera...nasty!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It"S ME: I agree with you. Every year I used to pay around 7-8.000 yen for flu-shots to both me and my son however we both always got a type of influenza somehow so this year I came to the conclusion that I shouldnt spend money with it If it's the same way as I haven't had any protection at all.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I used to get a flu shot every year, and often got the flu. Then 12 years ago I stopped getting the shot. Oddly, since then I've only had the flu once. Go figure.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Everyone should simply snuggle in at home and rent the movie, Contagion. Very 'comforting' indeed.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

especially children wash your hands and put on the freakin mask.

sorry for people riding the trains

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The flu is simply a result of stress. Smile and you will not catch it.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Now you know what does prevent transmission of influenza? Washing your hands regularly. Think about it. You're on the commute to work, feeling ill, but you gaman and haul your diseased carcass in to work. You sneeze, or blow your nose, and you get droplets of contamination on your hands. (Working on the assumption that you had the elementary courtesy to cover your mouth when you sneezed, but that's for another thread).

You get off the train and spread that contamination to every handrail, doorknob and coin you hold, and onto every hand you shake - until you have the chance to wash your hands.

In many countries, a revolutionary cleaning apparatus is in use, called SOAP. Wash your hands with this, and you remove pretty much all chance of cross-infection.

And yet, in Japan, we have to go through the annual pantomime of pretending paper masks will keep you safe from influenza and 30 million pairs of unwashed hands going into and out of town every day is as unchangeable as the seasons.

Put some soap in station washrooms and the epidemic might be stalled. Yet all around town, we've paid for renovation to station bobs and someone's made a deliberate decision that soap isn't needed.

And thousands of people will get sick and we'll pretend it is shoganai every single year.

Why is the installation of soap dispensers in the washrooms of the busiest public transport nexus in the world such an unthinkable concept for a people who consider having a bath a leisure pursuit?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

zichi, get well soon :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hong Kong flu??.. yep, blame it on the Chinese!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Please cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing! Also use soap when washing your hands. This is common sense, but this isn't a common sense country.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Flu remains a problem in Japan because people don't get vaccinated, which even if health officials don't get the "blend" just right, still does a great deal to build general immunity, and because, as other posters have pointed out, the Japanese still don't have the good sense to stay home for a couple days once they get sick.

Oh, and by the way, the stupid masks don't do any good. They just make you look like extras from some Contagion knock off.

0 ( +3 / -4 )

past funny, contagion knock off. but don't the masks help a little bit?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I thought this article was funny too... also known as the hong kong flu.. definitively get me extra days off from work if I tell them I have the hong kong flu compared to just the normal flu.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hope this will end up being a standard flu season, rather than something else. However we should consider the real possibilitiy that the effects of Iodine and Xenon gas exposure, even at low levels depresses our immune systems - that is what the thyroid gland is all about.

The peer reviewed, reported statistical analysis in the US of between 14,000-20,000 additional deaths of the immune system compromised (babies,Aids,aged) caused by Fukushima fallout should be considered here. On one of the radio shows, the researcher wondered aloud whether the Japanese govt has even been tracking these types of stats - unfortunately past experience leads us to believe that is a no. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bdow_6pN6jY

Vaccinations, from all accounts that I have read over the years, they do give excellent cover for the flu strains selected, however they depress the immune system for other conditions, other strains of flu, common colds and possibly pnumonia etc.

Everyone take care and I hope compassion for our fellow man will shine through in the coming years, unlike over the last 9 months of nuclear crisis.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

TT fine then, i hope you all get well japan hong kong and everyone else. i'm not going near any shot because they make u sick. i'll rely on my hand washing, before i eat at a restaurant etc duh common sense. better? lol --#

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It was reported recently that the Japanese government intends to draw up a riot act law for the event of a pandemic type flu. They would give the police powers to detain and prevent people physically congregating. Think about that!! It was translated on the ex-SKF blog.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Himajin, Blair Herron,

Thank you!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The flu is simply a result of stress. Smile and you will not catch it

Ha ha! I got the joke Onniyama, even if no-one else did!

@Zichi - poor you! Get well soon! x

Flu remains a problem in Japan because people don't get vaccinated, which even if health officials don't get the "blend" just right, still does a great deal to build general immunity

Absolute nonsense, as those who used to get the vaccination and got flu above will testify, and will the entire UK population who largely dont get vaccinated and yet still dont end up with all this polava every flu season. GETTiNG the flu, battling it and getting better however DOES build your immunity. However this -

and because, as other posters have pointed out, the Japanese still don't have the good sense to stay home for a couple days once they get sick.

absolutely true, although you are usually contagious before you are symptomatic, but it would certainly help. Washing hands above all else WITH SOAP!!! is the best prevention.

I take the advice of my long-time very experienced doctor friends (one in the UK, one in Japan) - the UK one says vaccines are a good precaution for the immuno-compromised, those with asthma, the very young, very old, etc. but for the general population not necessary. They wont prevent flu altogether but may give you a milder version of it should you get sick.

My J doctor friend tells me the doctors here rub their hands together with glee every Autumn and start administering the shots left right and centre for 3000 yen apiece. Easy money playing into peoples fears, apparently.

I have also heard that if you have had swine flu you are better protected against flu in general already but I dont know if that is true or not. Any immunologists on here, armchair or otherwise??! I went through swine flu when I was 27 weeks pregnant! I was terrified, with all the news of pregant women in comas and suchlike, but after a few days of low grade fever I was fine. The entire family got it, so we just holed up for 4 days with snacks, drinks and DVDs. "It was just like during the war!"

I dunno, maybe I am just deluded but I prefer to follow the more traditional route of washing my hands, eating plenty of fruitand veg, taking a multivitamin and staying home to rest if I get sick.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Nicky Washida,

Thank you! I did all the right things, smile and laugh all day, wash my hands and gargle on my return home. I don't do the flu jabs. Drinking lemon/honey/fresh ginger and aspirin, and keeping warm in my futon. I asked my wife to buy one of those cute nurse's uniforms, just the thought makes me feel better.

It was reported recently that the Japanese government intends to draw up a riot act law for the event of a pandemic type flu.

It would surprise me if they didn't and also probably both America and Europe would have similar plans.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Aw Zichi, whatever it takes to get better babe, whatever it takes! Really surprised the smiling didnt protect you though! Maybe it only works with radiation....;)

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The peer reviewed, reported statistical analysis in the US of between 14,000-20,000 additional deaths of the immune system compromised (babies,Aids,aged) caused by Fukushima fallout should be considered here.

Is this the same peer reviewed, statistical analysis that was totally debunked by said peers because it was financed by the anti-nuclear lobby and took skewed data to "prove" their point?

past funny, contagion knock off. but don't the masks help a little bit?

From what I understand, the masks can help to prevent the spread if YOU are sick by catching virus droplets in your breath or when you sneeze (only certain types of mask though) but once they are damp - as they of course get very quickly when you are breathing into them - this prevention stops. They dont stop you catching the flu at all for two main reasons - first, virus particles can enter through any permeable membrane including your eyes which are of course exposed, and secondly you may wear a mask, and glasses, but people get home and dont bother to wash their hands properly, take their mask off, run their eyes, touch their noses and mouths and...you get the rest.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

fair comment Nicky, some peers have come out against it - using this logic most stats coming out of govt would therefore be similarly unreliable as they are funded by the pronuke lobby.

My point is where are the baseline stats for Japan in this regard and how much research has been done since. Children in our villages just 15km from the evacuation zone have been tested once, over 2 months ago and results have yet to be released. Nosebleeds, blackend eyes, severe fatigue, metallic taste in the mouth and lack of concentration - the kids are suffering and this flu will probably be even worse than usual

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Get well soon Zichi

0 ( +1 / -1 )

fair comment Nicky, some peers have come out against it - using this logic most stats coming out of govt would therefore be similarly unreliable as they are funded by the pronuke lobby.

Which is why I never really trust statistics - after all, 88.3% of them are made up on the spot! ;)

Seriously though it was actually a genuine question - I only know of one such study that was debunked for the reasons I gave above, but I was wondering if there have been other studies. And I, like you, am highly concerned about the effects that potential radiation exposure will have on the flu season. It does weaken the immune system leaving the body wide open to invaders. Im particularly concerned as to why the results havent yet been released. The symptoms you are describing are pretty much all linked to thyroid function. This should be being addressed as a matter of urgency. As a parent myself I feel for you up there, I really do. There were a spate of nosebleeds in our local kindie last summer. Many parents were claiming it was due to the radiation. I was pretty skeptical myself given that our area was tested and found to be well within "safe" limits (whatever that may be) but still....makes you think.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Imagine all the people -- not overworking themselves and getting enough rest. There would be a drastic reduction in these types of epidemics. Most of my adult students believe that 6 hours a day is enough sleep. Is that some sort of cultural work ethic/group control going on?

Also, is there no influenza strain called "Tokyo flu?" Or has that been vetoed by the propaganda ministry?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

suzukakidJan. 22, 2012 - 02:22AM JST

Please cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing! Also use soap when washing your hands. This is common sense, but this isn't a common sense country.

Wanda-kunJan. 22, 2012 - 02:34AM JST

Oh, and by the way, the stupid masks don't do any good.

suzukakid, Wanda-kun: The masks aren't to prevent the person wearing it from catching an illness, they are to prevent people who have a bug from spreading it when they cough or sneeze and don't cover their mouth sufficiently or in time. Most Japanese people do stay home when they have a fever, but most try not to stay home too long... and even if you do stay home for 'a couple of days' you're still carrying the virus before and after symptoms arise. Common sense says that when you have a country that's smaller than the state of California, and you cram 130 million people into it, you're bound to have flu epidemics.... not that there isn't any more we can do to prevent its spread.

Ivan Coughanoffalot: Good idea with the soap in the train stations, but how about taking it a step further with those anti-bacterial alcohol pump stations on every train/car? That way you don't need water or a sink. Just spray, rub hands, and go! Actually, I think some people carry around their own these days.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Tahoochi, always carry a bottle of ethanol spray with me, ut apparently those only provide protection against bacteria. Viruses (such as influenza) aren't affected too much by a quick spray. Washing vigorousy with soap is the best defence against a virus. But that seems too much to ask for from the powers that be in this city - soap and water? What is this, the RitzCarlton? No, you'll have water only, from an infra-red tap and like it. You won't get your hands clean, but you'll marvel at how advanced we are.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

TahoochiJan. 22, 2012 - 09:18PM JST Most Japanese people do stay home when they have a fever, . . .

No they don't stay home. That's why I made the comment. Being absent from work or school is still frowned upon, regardless of the reason.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Wanda-kun: So we agree to disagree then. Where I work, going to work and spreading your sickness to everybody is frowned upon. Many people take sick days off.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If only it was the boogie-woogie flu.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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