- Many elderly Japanese have contracted TB while being
treated in hospital for something else
- Japan's health minister has declared a medical alert
amid signs that infectious lung disease tuberculosis is on the increase.
- TB has become Japan's number one infectious illness in
recent years, and the country has one of the highest incidences in the
- But this is the first time Japan has declared an emergency
because of it.
- While levels of infection are far lower than before and
just after World War II, when TB was Japan's biggest cause of death, in
recent years the disease seems to have made a comeback.
- Low awareness
- The latest figures available show that in 1997, the number
of people who had TB rose to 42,715, an increase of 243 on the previous
- But public awareness that TB is still a danger is extremely
- The emergency declaration said that not only the general
public but people who are engaged in medical treatment had an erroneous
idea that TB is a thing of the past.
- The declaration urges health centres to act quickly if
new cases of TB occur.
- It also asks medical associations and hospitals to improve
treatment and methods to prevent the infections spreading in hospitals.
- The rise in the disease has been particularly serious
amongst elderly people, many of whom have become ill while being treated
in hospital for something else.
- The Health Ministry said there was no sign that TB was