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'Anus-eater' spreads rapidly;  The virus kills 30% of those infected

'Anus-eater' spreads rapidly; The virus kills 30% of those infected

A mysterious flesh-eating disease is spreading rapidly and killing about 30% of those infected throughout Japan.

In the first two months of 2024, 378 cases of Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS) were detected in the country. There were believed to be 941 cases last year, raising concern that this year could exceed that number by a significant margin.

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STSS is caused by a more serious form of the bacteria that causes Streptococcus A (Streptococcus pyogenes), a common strep throat infection in children.

Infections were detected this year in all but two of Japan's 47 prefectures, raising concerns about the extent of the bacteria's spread. The Japan Times reports that there are generally fewer than 200 cases a year of the more serious streptococcal disease.

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But what's worrying about this particular wave is that experts have admitted they don't currently know what's causing it. A spokesperson for the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) said: “There are still many unknown factors regarding sudden and severe onset forms of strep. We are not at the stage where we can explain them.”

According to the UK's Health Security Agency, Streptococcus A is a bacteria that can grow in the throat, on the skin, anus and genitals, and can cause a range of conditions affecting the skin and soft tissue. Recurrent cases of Streptococcus A, which affects about 50 million people worldwide, can lead to heart-related autoimmune problems. Every year, about half a million people die from serious cases of Streptococcus A, which are transmitted through close contact with infected people.

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While it is unclear why STSS numbers are so high in Japan, Prof. “There is no doubt that something has happened in Japan. It has made people take notice,” Sriskandan said.

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Gazeta Brasil previously published an article detailing the WHO warning and taking a deeper look at Streptococcus A. You can read here.

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