The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA), often known as Group A Strep, issued a statement this month alerting caregivers to an increase in infections caused by the bacteria Streptococcus A. (GAS).
The organization noted a marked increase in cases of invasive Group A Strep and scarlet fever (iGAS).
According to UK data, these aggressive GAS cases, though still uncommon, have also been connected to 5 child fatalities. Up to 15 deaths of children and adolescents have been reported in the news.
We talked to specialists about the dangers of this illness becoming widespread in North America and how parents might spot symptoms.
Group A strep is what?
The dreaded strep throat, which can be frequent in children, is brought on by the bacteria known as GAS.
The bacteria can also result in more serious conditions including scarlet fever, which produces a rash and a fever, and impetigo, which produces sores.
The UK issued a warning after the agency saw 851 cases reported in one week in mid-November this year compared to an average of 186 in the same week in previous years. Although the number of deaths from invasive GAS is still low at under 10, it is alarming nonetheless.
In addition, kids may experience similar symptoms from several illnesses at once. “I think what’s very confusing about this fall and early winter with Strep A definitely circulating through the pediatric population, and also so many different upper respiratory viral illnesses, is we have a lot of kids who have both at the same time,” Madden said. Healthcare professionals also face a challenge because, unlike the NHS in the UK, the US system reports on these conditions. “They have influenza A, but they also have strep throat, or they have Rhinovirus or RSV with strep throat, or they have Rhinovirus or RSV with strep throat, and sometimes the strep throat can get missed.”
Why have cases risen sharply?
The UKHSA determined that the most recent peak occurred in 2017–2018 and links an increase in socializing to this year’s outbreak.
According to Dr. Flores, these increases are occurring at periods of the year when they are not generally observed. Spikes appear to be occurring in November and December rather than the usual months of April and May. Similar to the large number of RSV cases he is seeing in the pediatric system, he attributes these increased rates to a combination of a prior lack of exposure and an increase in masking over the past few years.
Treatment and prevention
Amoxicillin prescriptions are the most typical form of treatment for GAS. There are other solutions available, according to Johns, so there is minimal need to panic even though the popular antibiotic is in short supply in some parts of the nation.
“In my opinion, this is the kind of circumstance that may easily and quickly become a truly scary hype. Oh my goodness, this is the strep throat-causing bacteria, and my child has had strep throat. Does this mean my child will now die? And I believe it’s crucial to emphasize that Group A strep is frequently encountered, especially in the pediatric environment.