Alarm in Japan over the “carnivorous” bacterium and the world of football goes haywire

Alarm in Japan over the “carnivorous” bacterium and the world of football goes haywire


The outbreak of a “flesh-eating” bacterium stops football in Japan. Tokyo authorities have announced that cases of a rare but deadly bacterial infection, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), the so-called “flesh-eating disease”, have more than doubled since last year, to 88 cases. .
The Tokyo metropolitan government then issued the alert, as cases of this particular type of bacterial infection have already exceeded those of the whole of last year by more than half. Concerns about the spread of STSS, meanwhile, prompted North Korea to cancel a major soccer match with Japan that was due to take place in Pyongyang.

Lightning-fast shapes

In severe cases, STSS – most often caused by the bacterium called group A streptococcus – can cause necrosis of the connective tissues covering the muscles and has had a mortality rate of about 30% in individuals infected over the course of 2023: “This is an extremely high mortality rate,” according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
The National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) stated that “there are still many unknown factors regarding the mechanisms underlying fulminant (severe and sudden) forms of strep. Now we are not yet at the stage where these can be explained.”

Streptococcus A is a common type of bacteria that lives in the throat and on the skin, and is usually easily treatable. But some infections can prove more serious. While milder infections caused by Streptococcus A include scarlet fever, impetigo, cellulitis, and laryngitis (all treatable with antibiotics), more serious infections come from a more invasive group of streptococcus, known as iGas. The most serious form of the infection is STSS, whose symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, according to the CDC, the United States Center for Disease Control. The increase in STSS cases is believed to be associated with a variant known as the M1UK strain, which has been increasingly detected in patients since mid-November 2023. In more severe cases, STSS then progresses to cause sepsis, organ failure and necrosis.

Cancellation of a match

Last Saturday, FIFA then formally announced the cancellation of the World Cup qualifying match between North Korea and Japan, originally scheduled for Tuesday in Pyongyang. The organization concluded that the Asian Group B match “will not be played or rescheduled” due to difficulties in finding an alternative venue or match date. On Thursday, however, North Korea sent its team to play against Japan at the National Stadium in Tokyo. Japan won the match 1-0.
Also on Friday, South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency warned travelers visiting Japan about the risks of STSS, citing rising cases.


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