After the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported higher-than-usual cases of invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS), a rare but serious strep A infection, among youngsters in the U.K. this season, strep A has been making headlines in the U.S. and Europe. Since September, these severe instances have resulted in 60 deaths, 15 of which were in children under the age of 18. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are also investigating a possible increase in kid iGAS cases in the United States. Two American kids have passed away from strep A infections as of November 1st. According to Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, the majority of strep A infections are minor and can be managed at home, despite the alarming news of severe cases and fatalities. However, physicians advise parents to be aware of the symptoms of strep A infections and when to seek medical attention.
First, what is the cause of strep A?
According to Dr. Kiley Trott, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Yale Medicine, Strep A, also known as group A Streptococcus (group A strep), is a type of bacteria that usually affects the upper respiratory tract and can lead to infections such as strep throat as well as skin and respiratory infections. Cellulitis and impetigo are two examples of these skin illnesses.
According to Katie M. Acquino, MD, medical director of Baptist Health Urgent Care Express Palm Beach, strep A is extremely contagious and spreads quickly from person to person. According to her, some of the most typical ways it can spread are through intimate contact with an infected person, sharing food or beverages, or even breathing in their air droplets. According to Kimbrough, you can also contract strep A by touching a surface that has the bacteria and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, as well as by touching a person who has the infection’s sores or the fluid that comes from them.
What symptoms indicate a strep A infection?
According to Kimbrough, a sore throat, sometimes known as strep throat, is the most typical symptom of strep A. She notes that swallowing can be particularly unpleasant. Strep throat can strike anyone, although it most frequently affects kids and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 15.
According to Kimbrough, additional signs of strep A infection include fever, headache, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, red and swollen tonsils, tiny red spots on the back of the mouth, nausea or vomiting (particularly in young children), white patches on the tonsils, and rash. However, she points out that cough and runny nose are more probable indicators of a viral illness and are not typical strep A symptoms. Another indication of strep A rough and red facial rash that is indicative of an infection and can later extend to other body areas. Scarlet fever, which commonly manifests a few days after a strep A infection, can be indicated by that.
When does strep A infection become dangerous?
According to Aquino, strep A typically only results in mild to moderate sickness. However, it can occasionally worsen if neglected or the bacteria migrate to other bodily areas. Invasive group A strep is the most harmful strain of strep. According to Trott, these infections happen when germs enter the body and manage to get past the body’s defenses. An individual may experience this invasion if they have open sores or other skin breaks that permit the germs to enter the body. Trott also points out that those with illnesses that impair immunity, such as diabetes, cancer, or kidney disease, are more vulnerable to iGAS when they have strep A.
According to Trott, iGAS can also cause serious and sometimes fatal conditions such toxic shock syndrome, necrotizing fasciitis, and meningitis, which cause inflammation of the membranes that coat the brain and spinal cord. Additional severe strep Rheumatic fever and a kidney condition known as post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis are consequences, according to Acquino. Acquino advises parents to have their children tested for strep when they have sore throats to lower their risk of developing strep A complications. This is especially important if the sore throat is severe, develops suddenly, and is accompanied by a fever of 101 degrees or higher, difficulty swallowing, or swollen lymph nodes. Kimbrough advises seeking emergency medical attention if your child exhibits signs including swelling, less alertness, quick breathing, changes in skin color, ulcers or blisters on the skin, excruciating stomach discomfort, or decreased urination.
How is strep A usually managed or treated?
According to Kimbrough, many strep A symptoms resemble those of viral diseases like the flu. Therefore, a doctor will take a throat culture with a brief swab down the back of the throat before recommending treatment.
If the strep A test is positive, an antibiotic regimen of penicillin or amoxicillin for 10 days may be advised. Scarlet fever can also be treated with antibiotics. The U.S. is currently experiencing an amoxicillin scarcity, as Kimbrough notes, so finding amoxicillin might not be simple. Acquino points out that the majority of youngsters receive prescriptions for amoxicillin oral suspension, which is affected by the scarcity. According to her, “At the moment, we have had a few pharmacies phone us after prescription an antibiotic, mainly amoxicillin, to advise us that they don’t have the dose that we ordered, but they have been able to adjust the dose or delivery route.” According to Acquino, this could need switching from liquid to chewable or even pill form of the drug. To make medicine easier for kids to swallow, “tablets can be crumbled and sprinkled into liquids or food such as applesauce.”