Doctors should be on the lookout for a type of strep infection in children that can lead to so-called “flesh-eating disease” and organ failure, health officials say.
Shortly before Christmas, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory regarding the recent increase in severe childhood infections of streptococcal A, also known as iGAS.
It is too early to know for sure if the increase in these diseases is what it will be like in the pre-epidemic period. But the cases of iGAS in children at this time are higher than the similar period seen in the first two years of the COVID-19 epidemic. In any case, the number of iGAS cases in all countries has been low.
However, officials investigated a possible increase in iGAS infections among children in a Colorado hospital, and the increase may eventually be reported elsewhere. These bacteria can cause life-threatening infections such as necrotizing fasciitis – sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria” – as well as fatal infections that can lead to organ failure and sepsis, severe and sometimes fatal physical reactions. Another complication can be cellulitis, a skin infection that can cause painful swelling. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health has asked local hospitals to immediately report cases of strep A, including cases of necrotizing fasciitis and strep toxic shock.
Group A Streptococcus bacteria can cause mild but still painful infections, such as strep throat, commonly called strep throat. Symptoms may include a sore throat, pain when swallowing, fever, red and swollen tonsils, and swollen lymph nodes. Children may have symptoms that include headache, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. People with strep throat may also have a rash, known as scarlet fever.
In contrast, severe iGAS infection “is associated with a high mortality rate and requires immediate treatment, including appropriate antibiotic therapy,” the CDC said. British health officials are investigating cases of iGAS, which is also rare there. In early December, authorities said five deaths were recorded in a week of iGAS testing in children under the age of 10 in England. During the last period when group A streptococcal infections were high, there were four deaths per year during the same period.
Exposure to a person with a sore throat puts them at greater risk for iGAS infection, the CDC says. Sore throats are common in children between the ages of 5 and 15 and peak in the United States from December to April. iGAS rates are higher when flu levels are high, and this flu season is shaping up to be the worst in a decade. According to the CDC, people who have or have recently had a viral infection such as the flu or chickenpox are at higher risk for iGAS. The elderly, people living in nursing homes, people with chronic diseases, people with wounds or skin conditions, people who use drugs in the water, people who Homelessness, and Native Americans are also considered at risk of iSGA. The CDC encourages parents to be aware of the symptoms of iGAS and seek immediate medical attention. Here is a summary of the symptoms of the most dangerous problems:
Necrotizing fasciitis: Early symptoms include rapidly spreading redness, heat, or swelling of the skin, pain, and fever. Other symptoms may include sores, blisters or black spots on the skin, changes in skin color, pus or discharge from infected areas, headache, fatigue, nausea or diarrhea.
Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome: The disease begins with fever and chills, body aches, nausea and vomiting. But within 24 to 48 hours, more serious symptoms begin, such as high blood pressure, a faster than normal heartbeat, rapid breathing, and organ failure. For example, kidney failure can be diagnosed if a person stops urinating. Liver failure can be diagnosed if they bleed or suffer a lot, their eyes can turn yellow.
Cellulitis: Symptoms appear as red, swollen, painful areas of skin – usually on the legs and feet – that are warm and tender in the hands. “The skin may look like a rash, like the peel of an orange, or a rash may appear on the affected skin. Some people may also develop fever and chills,” the CDC said. To help reduce the risk of severe symptoms, health officials recommend getting the flu and chickenpox vaccines because the viruses from these diseases put people at higher risk for the disease. iGAS.
Bacterial iSGA infection in a person with a bacterial infection from another disease can appear in the patient as persistent or worsening symptoms after the initial progress in the disease.