The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a possible increase in cases of invasive infections among children in the United States caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus or group A strep, which are known to cause strep throat.
Chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Long Island, New York. “Group A strep has always been a very important pathogen that can cause very serious illness,” Aaron Glatt told Fox News Digital.
“It’s a big concern that we’re seeing an increase in serious cases in many places,” said Glatt, who is also a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
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Cases are increasing rapidly in Europe and parts of the USA
Here’s a deeper look into the matter and what Americans need to know.
Where is the increase in cases?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have reported an increase in cases of invasive group A strep disease among children under the age of 10 since September.
“In France and the United Kingdom, [invasive group A strep] The WHO said in a recent press release on 12 December that cases observed in children were several times higher than pre-pandemic levels over an equivalent period of time.
Additionally, multiple U.S. hospitals in several states, including Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Washington, told NBC News they’re seeing higher levels of cases of invasive disease caused by bacteria than in past years.
The state of Colorado has also reported two deaths from group A strep among young children in the Denver area since November 1.
Pediatric infectious disease physician and medical director of the UW Health Kids immunization program, Dr. James H. Conway told Fox News Digital that he’s also seeing an increase in his practice in Madison, Wisconsin.
“We’re seeing an increase in invasive Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A strep) bacterial infections in our area, mostly following respiratory viral diseases like Influenza A and RSV,” said Conway, professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin. Medicine and Public Health.
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“We also saw an increase in Streptococcus pneumoniae. infections.”
The state of Colorado has also reported two deaths from group A strep among young children in the Denver area since November 1, according to the state health department.
Over the past five years, the CDC estimates that approximately 14,000 to 25,000 cases of invasive group A strep disease occur in the United States each year; Between 1,500 and 2,300 people die each year from invasive group A strep disease.
UK deaths across all age groups
“Unfortunately, there have been 74 deaths across all age groups in England so far this season,” according to a press release from the UK Health Safety Agency on 15 December.
The publication discussed an unusual increase in scarlet fever and group A strep infections.
“This figure includes 16 children under the age of 16. [age] 18 in the UK.”
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“In the 2017-2018 season, a total of 355 deaths occurred during the season, 27 of which were children under 18 years of age,” the statement said.
Why the increase in cases?
“The reason behind this increase is unknown, which is even more frightening,” said Glatt.
“Severe viral infections such as influenza A, RSV, and COVID-19 are all patterns for secondary bacterial infections,” Conway added.
“They have a negative effect on the immune system, plus they create an environment conducive to bacterial growth, with swelling of all airways and increased secretions.”
He added that people have likely built up some immunity from temporary contact with group A strep — but the pandemic “possibly reduced the immunity of the general population, just as it did for the majority of the population for flu and RSV.”
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“Fortunately, when diagnosed early and with prompt appropriate treatment, outcomes can be quite good, but unfortunately some patients will still succumb despite proper care,” added Glatt.
What is group A strep?
“Group A strep is literally a whole group of bacteria that can cause many different diseases, depending on the strain,” Conway said.
Experts recommend treating strep throat with antibiotics to prevent kidney complications and other complications.
Mild cases are considered “non-invasive,” such as infections that cause strep throat or skin infections such as scarlet fever or impetigo.
Experts recommend treating strep throat with antibiotics to prevent a kidney complication known as post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis and another complication that affects multiple organ systems, including the heart, joints, and central nervous system, known as rheumatic fever.
“Scarlet fever, also called Scarlatina, is characterized by a scarlet-like rash and often presents with a sore throat,” according to the CDC website.
Impetigo is a superficial skin infection that looks like a “honey-colored” rash; It usually occurs on exposed areas of the body, such as the face, arms or legs, according to the CDC.
What is invasive group A strep?
“Invasive disease means that microbes invade parts of the body that are normally germ-free,” the CDC said on its website.
When group A strep invades deeper parts of the body, it can lead to more serious illnesses such as bacteria entering the bloodstream or lungs, or getting deep into the skin known as necrotizing fasciitis.
Conway noted that necrotizing fasciitis is known as “the dreaded flesh-eating bacteria.” The patient’s skin quickly “browns” within 24 to 48 hours, and “affected tissues are progressively [will] It darkens from red to purple, blue to black,” the CDC said.
This condition requires antibiotics and often requires immediate surgical removal of dead tissue, known as debridement.
Bacteria can also release toxins in deep tissues and the bloodstream, leading to shock and organ failure (toxic shock).
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The condition usually presents with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills and muscle aches, but quickly progresses to where the bacteria enters the bloodstream, causing organ failure in a life-threatening condition known as sepsis.
How can we protect children this winter?
“It is important for parents to maximize immune protection by keeping their children updated on both viral vaccines against influenza and COVID-19, and routine childhood vaccines available against bacteria with Prevnar13, etc.”
“It is also important for people who are sick to wear masks or stay at home to prevent exposure and transmission to other people,” he said.
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“It’s also important to seek medical attention for children who have a high fever, difficulty breathing, unusual rash, among other things,” Conway says.