A deadly infection that could kill a person in hours has taken Japan by storm. Over 500 people have been reportedly infected by the deadly flesh-eating bacteria and the cause remains unknown.
According to local reports, about 525 patients have been affected with streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS). This is the highest number of cases since the recording of this began in 1999.
The data has been cited by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. According to the statistics provided, 66 cases were reported in Tokyo, 40 in Kanagawa, 32 in Aichi, 31 in Fukuoka and 28 in Hyogo. The report suggests that most victims were over the age of 30.
While the recording may have begun in 1999, the number of cases has seen a huge rise since 2013. In that year alone, 203 patients were said to have been treated. The reason behind the increase is still unknown, puzzling scientists studying the illness.
Bacteria Behind The Disease
STSS is reportedly caused by a bacterium called streptococcus pyogenes, better known as group A streptococcus. The bacteria is known to bring on strep throat among children. A small portion of the bacterium can develop into a particularly severe and often deadly strain leading to death.
Initial symptoms include swelling and pain in the hands and feet. Patients could also suffer from fever. The symptoms can appear even if patients have no chronic health problems.
"The signs of an STSS-infected area likely appear from the feet," Ken Kikuchi, a professor of infectious diseases at Tokyo Women's Medical University told the Japanese newspaper. "The elderly should be careful about swelling of their feet and go see a doctor immediately when swelling appears."
The swelling eventually spreads over the course of several hours leading to necrosis of a band of tissue surrounding the muscles. If the bacteria that necrotizes muscle tissues spreads, patients suffer from multiple organ failures and die within a few hours.