What parents need to know about strep A
Strep A has been in the headlines in the US and Europe after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced higher than usual cases of invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS), a rare but serious strep A infection, in children in the UK this season. These severe cases have led to 60 deaths, 15 of them in children under 18, since September.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also investigating a potential increase in iGAS cases in children in the US beginning November 1, two American children have died of streptococcal A infections.
Although the news about serious strep A infections and deaths is worrisome, the vast majority of these infections are mild and can be treated at home. Dr. Tiffany Kimbroughpediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, he tells Yahoo Life.
However, experts say it’s important for parents to know the signs of a strep A infection and when to see a doctor.
First, how do you get strep A?
Streptococcus A, also called group A strep (group A strep), is a type of bacteria that tends to infect the upper respiratory tract, causing infections such as strep throat, but also skin and respiratory infections. Dr Kiley Trott, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Yale Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. These skin infections include impetigo Y cellulitis.
Streptococcus A is highly contagious, spreads easily from person to person, Katie M Acquino, medical director of Baptist Health Urgent Care Express Palm Beach, told Yahoo Life. “Some of the most common ways it can be spread is through close contact with someone who has strep, by sharing food, drinks, or even by breathing in its air droplets,” she says.
You can also get it by touching a surface with the bacteria on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth, Kimbrough says, or by touching it. touching sores or fluid from sores on the skin of a person with strep A.
What are the symptoms of a strep A infection?
The most common symptom of strep A is a sore throat, often referred to as strep throat, says Kimbrough. “It can be quite painful, especially when swallowing,” she says. Although strep throat can occur at any age, it is most common in children and adolescents. from 5 to 15 years.
Other symptoms of strep A infection include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, small red spots on the back of the roof of the mouth, red and swollen tonsils, white spots on the tonsils, nausea or vomiting (especially in young children). ) and rash. , according to Kimbrough. However, she points out that a cough and runny nose are not typical symptoms of strep A and are more likely signs of a viral infection.
Another sign of a strep A infection is a rough, red rash on the face which then spreads to other parts of the body. That can be a sign of scarlet fever, which usually appears a few days after a strep A infection.
When is a strep A infection serious?
Most of the time, strep A only causes mild to moderate illness, Acquino says. But in rare cases, it can become serious if left untreated or if the bacteria spreads to other parts of the body.
Invasive group A streptococcus, which causes the most serious strep A infections, occurs when the bacteria enters the body and evades its defenses, says Trott. This invasion can occur when a person has open sores or other breaks in the skin that allow the bacteria to enter the body.
Trott also notes that people with health conditions that weaken the immune system, such as diabetes, cancer, or kidney disease, are prone to iGAS when they have strep A.
Serious and life-threatening illnesses such as necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease), meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), or toxic shock syndrome also occur with iGAS, according to Trott. Other serious complications of strep A, Acquino says, include rheumatic fever and a kidney disease known as poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis.
Acquino recommends that parents have their children tested for strep when they have a sore throat, to reduce the risk of complications from strep A, especially if the the sore throat is severe and comes on suddenly and is also accompanied by a fever of 101 degrees or higher, difficulty swallowing, or swollen lymph nodes.
If your child experiences symptoms such as bloating, decreased alertness, rapid breathing, changes in skin color, skin ulcers or blisters, severe stomach pain, or decreased urination, Kimbrough recommends seeking medical help immediately.
How is strep A typically treated?
Many symptoms of strep A mimic those of viral infections, such as the flu, Kimbrough says. So before prescribing treatment, a doctor will take a throat culture with a quick swab along the back of the throat.
If the test is positive for strep A, a course of antibiotics, usually penicillin or amoxicillin, may be prescribed for 10 days. Antibiotics are also used to treat scarlet fever. However, finding amoxicillin may not be easy; as Kimbrough points out, the US is currently experiencing amoxicillin shortage.
Acquino notes that the shortage mainly affects amoxicillin oral suspension, which is prescribed primarily for children. “Currently, some pharmacies have called us after prescribing an antibiotic, particularly amoxicillin, informing us that they don’t have the dosage we prescribed, but have been able to change the dosage or delivery method,” she says. That could mean having to “switch from liquid medication to chewable or even tablets,” Acquino says. “Tablets can be crushed and sprinkled into liquids or foods like applesauce” to make it easier for children to swallow the medication.
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