AleWhat began as a simple bacterial infection ended with the death of fifteen Group A Streptococcus-infected children in the UK.
Health authorities have issued a dire warning to parents in the UK as the number of child deaths from the infection continues to rise. The latest victim, a five-year-old Irish girl, became seriously ill last week before dying on Monday of complications related to strep A.
Although pediatric patients often present with mild symptoms such as fever, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, complications can arise when the infection enters the bloodstream, causing a life-threatening disease known as invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS). ) is referred to as.
In the United States, cases of IGAS decreased during the pandemic, but the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported independent On Wednesday, doctors in the US notified the agency of a possible recent increase, which is now being actively monitored.
Pediatric infectious diseases specialist and associate professor at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Mark Hiker told independent It’s hard to know whether the United States could see an outbreak similar to the United Kingdom’s recent one.
Seven children under the age of 17 per 100,000 in supervised areas died from complications of strep A before the pandemic in 2019, according to CDC data.
One death per 100,000 residents was reported in the monitored areas in 2020, when the last report was released.
CDC only tracks iGAS infections and does not track non-invasive Strep A infections. Only 10 states reported iGAS data in the latest report.
A spokesperson said, “Mitigation measures (such as closing schools and workplaces, or wearing face masks) helped reduce the spread of many viruses and bacteria during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Now that these microbes are spreading again, we may return to normal IGAS infection patterns, including seasonal increases in the winter months.”
What are strep A infections?
Group A strep is a common bacterial infection, mainly seen in children.
In the most severe and rare cases, infection causes conditions such as a scarlet fever, bacterial skin infection (impetigo), necrotizing tissue (fasciitis), strep toxic shock syndrome, pneumonia, and sepsis.
However, most group A strep infections have mild, flu-like symptoms.
“There are many strains of group A strep and there have been separate outbreaks in the UK in the past (2015 and 2018),” Dr Hicker said. “…the previous increase in cases in the UK did not affect US cases, so it is difficult to say whether it will affect this time.”
Dr. Hicker says that some types of the infection can cause a “sandpaper rash” that usually makes children ill and is known as “scarlet fever.”
“Usually this occurs with throat infection or cases of pharyngitis, but it can also occur with impetigo infection. That appears to be the way it is currently reported in the UK,” he said.
He added that immunocompromised children are at greater risk when they contract strep A.
“Some children who have a dysfunctional spleen or who have other forms of immune depression are at risk of sepsis, toxic shock, and necrotizing fasciitis (a ‘flesh-eating’ group A strep infection),” Dr. Hicker said. increases.”
Doctors have warned the mother of two-year-old Teiden, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia earlier this year, that her daughter’s transplant could be delayed after the girl was diagnosed with strep A last week.
Heather, who lives in Utah, said, ‘The day before the fever I was irritable and tired independent.
Teden’s symptoms resolved within 48 hours of antibiotic administration. He is expected to recover well for his transplant.
Can infection increase after the epidemic?
A spokeswoman for the CDC said independent More data needs to be collected to get a better idea of recent trends in group A strep in the United States.
“The recent increase in respiratory viruses, especially influenza, may contribute to a possible increase in iGAS infections. Concurrent or previous viral infections, such as influenza, and skin conditions, such as chickenpox, may increase the risk of iGAS infections. ,” the spokesperson explained.
Dr. Hikar said that the use of masks does not seem to reduce the infection.
“Masks help well with respiratory viruses, such as flu and Covid-19, but other organisms that can live on surfaces [como el estreptococo A] They are not much affected by the use of masks,” he said. “US data available for 2020, the first year of the epidemic, appear to be stable for mortality and invasive group A strep infections.”
The CDC estimates that there have been between 14,000 and 25,000 cases of IGAS in the past five years, and between 1,500 and 2,300 deaths over the same period.
What symptoms should parents look out for?
According to the CDC, most children infected with strep A will experience painful swallowing, fever, red and swollen tonsils (sometimes with white spots or streaks of pus), and swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck.
Doctor. show off independent That sore throat and fever should go away in a few days. He advised parents to follow up with their doctors again if symptoms persist.
“If your child is diagnosed with group A strep and it seems like it’s getting better, but then it gets worse, talk to your doctor,” she recommends. “This could be the beginning of one of these rarer, more serious complications.”
He reiterated that although most cases are not dangerous to children, complications can be fatal if the infection reaches the bloodstream (bacteremia), lungs (pneumonia) or brain (meningitis).
How do children get infected?
Crowded places, such as schools and day care centers, increase the risk of strep A infection.
According to the CDC, the bacteria is highly contagious and can spread through respiratory droplets from talking, coughing or sneezing and through direct contact when patients develop skin sores.
In very rare cases, it can also spread through food if it is not handled properly.
“As social creatures, we are constantly bombarded by bacteria and viruses that our immune systems defy most of the time,” Dr. show off independent.
“…the more contacts a person has, the more likely they are to become infected. However, peer interaction and socialization have many benefits.”
What to do if you suspect your child has strep A?
Strep A infection can be diagnosed through a rapid strep test that involves clearing your throat.
Doctors also give throat cultures to patients. Although this method takes one to two days, it is more effective than the rapid test.
What is the treatment for strep A?
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent strep A infection.
Antibiotics ease symptoms and prevent complications and are the most widely used form of treatment. Once antibiotics are prescribed, patients should begin to feel better within 48 hours.