Japan records 291 cases of a deadly condition called streptococcol toxic-shock syndrome (STSS). It is commonly referred to as "flesh-eating disease", reported the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID).
The infection, which is fatal in almost one in three cases, destroys tissue and can result in death in a matter of days. The figures showed that cases this year topped last year's 273 patients in less than nine months.
"Researchers are not sure why the number is growing. There is so much we still don't know about this disease," said the NIID official.
When a person is infected with streptococcal bacteria, he or she will normally develop only minor symptoms such as a sore throat or skin infection. The bacteria commonly exists in the body but does not usually spread to certain organs.
"Of the 712 patients reported between 2012 and 2014, 207 or 29 percent of the total, died. As many as 76 percent of the fatalities occurred within three days after symptoms emerged. The majority of patients are aged over 60 but younger people, including children, also contracted the disease," said the NIID official.