‘Major concern’: Invasive group A strep cases rise in parts of US: CDC is investigating

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 known to lead to strep throat, called group A streptococcus or group A strep .

“Group A has always been a very important pathogen that can cause very serious disease,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Long Island, New York, told Fox News Digital.

“It’s a big concern that we’re seeing an increase in serious cases in many locations,” added Glatt, who is also a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

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Cases have been increasing across Europe and parts of the United States

Here’s a deeper dive into the issue and what Americans should know.

Where is the peak of cases?

France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have reported an increase in cases of invasive group A disease among children under 10 since September, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A mother checks her child's temperature. "It is of great concern that we are seeing an increase in serious cases. [of group A strep] in many places," said Dr.  Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Long Island, New York.

A mother checks her child’s temperature. “It is of great concern that we are seeing an increase in serious cases. [of group A strep] in many places,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Long Island, New York.
(iStock)

“In France and the UK, the number of [invasive group A strep] Cases observed in children have been several times higher than pre-pandemic levels over the equivalent time period,” the WHO recently said in a press release on 12 December.

In addition, several US hospitals in several states, including Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Washington, told NBC News that they have seen higher levels of cases of invasive disease caused by the bacteria, compared to previous years.

The state of Colorado also reported two deaths among young children in the Denver area from group A strep since November. 1.

Dr. James H. Conway, a pediatric infectious disease physician and medical director of the immunization program at UW Health Kids, told Fox News Digital that he is also seeing an increase in his practice in Madison, Wisconsin.

“We’re seeing an increase in invasive bacterial Streptococcus pyogenes (group A strep) infections here in our area, especially after viral respiratory illnesses like influenza A and RSV,” said Conway, who is also a professor of pediatrics. at the University of Wisconsin. Medicine and Public Health.

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“We’ve also seen an increase in Streptococcus pneumoniae infections”.

The state of Colorado also reported two deaths among young children in the Denver area from group A strep since November. 1, according to the state health department.

A woman checks her sick daughter's throat. "Serious viral infections such as influenza A, RSV, and COVID-19 are a setup for secondary bacterial infections," said Dr.  James H. Conway of Madison, Wisconsin.

A woman checks her sick daughter’s throat. “Severe viral infections such as influenza A, RSV and COVID-19 are a setup for secondary bacterial infections,” said Dr. James H. Conway of Madison, Wisconsin.
(iStock)

In the past five years, the CDC estimates that approximately 14,000 to 25,000 cases of invasive group A disease occurred each year in the United States; Between 1,500 and 2,300 people died annually from invasive group A disease.

Deaths in England are across all age groups

“Unfortunately, there have been 74 deaths across all age groups in England so far this season,” according to a December document. 15 UK Health Safety Agency press release.

The release discussed an unusual increase in scarlet fever and group A strep infections.

“This figure includes 16 minor children [age] 18 in England”.

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The notice added: “In the 2017-2018 season, there were 355 deaths in total during the season, including 27 deaths in children under the age of 18.”

Why an increase in cases?

“The underlying cause of this increase is unknown, which is even more frightening,” Glatt noted.

“Severe viral infections such as influenza A, RSV and COVID-19 are a setup for secondary bacterial infections,” Conway added.

A pediatrician examines a baby. "It is important for parents to maximize immune protection by keeping their children up to date with both the viral flu and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as routine childhood vaccines available against bacteria with Prevnar13, etc." said a doctor.

A pediatrician examines a baby. “It is important for parents to maximize immune protection by keeping their children up-to-date with the viral flu and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as routine childhood vaccines available against bacteria with Prevnar13, etc.,” said a doctor . . .
(iStock)

“They have a negative impact on the immune system, as well as creating an environment conducive to bacterial replication, with all the swelling of the airways and increased secretions.”

It’s likely that people build up some immunity from transient contact with group A strep, he added, but the pandemic “probably lowered immunity in the general community, just as it appears to have done with influenza and RSV in a large part of the population”.

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“Fortunately, when recognized early and with prompt appropriate therapy, outcomes can be quite good, but unfortunately, some patients will still succumb despite appropriate care,” Glatt added.

What is group A strep?

“Group A is literally a whole group of bacteria, which can cause many different types of disease depending on the strain,” Conway noted.

Experts advise treating pharyngitis with antibiotics to prevent a kidney complication and other complications.

Mild cases are considered “non-invasive”, such as those infections that cause strep throat infections or skin infections, such as scarlet fever or impetigo.

Experts advise treating pharyngitis with antibiotics to prevent a kidney complication known as post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis and another that affects multiple organ systems, including the heart, joints and central nervous system, known as rheumatic fever.

“Scarlet fever, also called scarlet fever, is characterized by a scarlet fever rash and usually occurs with strep throat,” according to the CDC website.

Impetigo is a superficial skin infection that looks like a “honey-colored” rash; It usually appears on exposed areas of the body, such as the face, arms or legs, according to the CDC.

What is group A invasive strep?

“Invasive disease means that germs invade parts of the body that are normally free of germs,” ​​the CDC noted on its website.

When group A strep invades deeper parts of the body, this can lead to more serious disease, such as when the bacteria enter the bloodstream or lungs, or deep into the skin known as necrotizing fasciitis.

Necrotizing fasciitis is known as “the dreaded flesh-eating bacteria,” Conway noted. The patient’s skin will rapidly become “dark” within 24 to 48 hours and “the affected tissues will progressively [will] darken from red to purple to blue to black,” the CDC noted.

"Invasive disease means that germs invade parts of the body that are normally germ-free," the CDC noted on its website.

“Invasive disease means that germs invade parts of the body that are normally free of germs,” ​​the CDC noted on its website.
(iStock)

The condition requires antibiotics and often emergency surgical removal of the dead tissue, known as debridement.

Bacteria can also release toxins into deep tissues and the bloodstream, causing shock and organ failure (toxic shock).

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The condition often presents with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills and muscle aches, but it progresses quickly to where the bacteria enters the bloodstream and causes organ failure in a life-threatening condition known as sepsis.

How can we protect children this winter?

“It’s important for parents to maximize immune protection by keeping their children up-to-date with the viral flu and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the routine bacterial vaccines available with Prevnar13, etc.,” Conway said.

“It is also important for sick people to wear masks or stay at home, to avoid exposing and infecting other people,” he noted.

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Conway advised, “It’s also important to seek medical attention for children who have a high fever, trouble breathing, unusual rashes, among other things.”

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