All You Need to Know About Infection and Who is More at Risk of Developing Deadly iGAS
Here’s why doctors and experts around the world are so much worried about about Strep A infection
UK Health officials have issued a strong warning that the prevalence of invasive Strep A infections, which has killed six children, is now four times that of before the Covid outbreak.
Following the tragic deaths of six children, health authorities in the UK are warning parents and schools to be on the lookout for Strep A infections.
Since Covid-19 restrictions like wearing a mask and staying away from people are no longer needed in the UK, infections like Strep A are spreading more easily and the number of cases has gone up over the past month.
Strep A bacterial infections are often minor, but they may cause severe illness.
Even though invasive Group A Strep is still rare, there have been more cases this year, especially in children under 10.
Here’s everything you need to know about Strep A infection
Strep A infection – What is it?
The bacteria usually causes tonsillitis, which is also called strep throat or scarlet fever. In severe cases, the bacteria can cause invasive Group A Strep (iGAS), which is a more serious form of the disease.
This happens when the bacteria goes beyond the normal areas of infection, like the respiratory tract, and gets into the blood, where it can cause sepsis, shock, or even meningitis in the worst cases.
How common is Strep A bacterial infection?
According to data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), there were 0.5 cases of iGAS per 100,000 persons in children between the ages of one and four years old during pre-pandemic periods. But now the number is two per 100,000, which is four times higher.
It has climbed from 0.3 per 100,000 to more than one per 100,000 for kids between the ages of five and nine, a more than three-fold increase.
In recent months, there has also been an increase in cases of scarlet fever, a separate illness that is still brought on by the same bacterium.
According to official statistics, there were 851 instances of scarlet fever in the most recent week, which is more than four and a half times as many cases as there were on average (186) in the same week prior to the pandemic.
What symptoms should you look for?
Strep A can cause a range of symptoms such as a sore throat or a skin infection, varying from minor to severe but is not fatal for most people who become infected.
- fever (a high temperature above 38C)
- severe muscle aches
- sore throat or a skin infection
But Strep A can also cause a number of different problems, some could be more serious than others.
Scarlet fever is one of them, which usually affects young children.
According to the UKHSA, anyone who has “high fever, severe muscle aches, pain in one area of the body and unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea” should “seek medical help immediately”.
Scarlet fever: What is it?
It produces rashes as well as symptoms that are similar to those of the flu, such as a fever, a sore throat, and swollen neck glands.
Strep A: Is it dangerous and what things make the infection more severe
In very rare cases, Strep A may also produce an illness that is referred to as invasive group A streptococcal disease, or iGAS for short.
In a recent advisory, health officials warned that children who have just recovered from the flu or chickenpox are at a higher risk of developing a severe case of Strep A, such as iGAS.
This can happen if the body’s immune system is weak or if the bacteria can get into the body quickly through an open wound.
It is simpler for the invasive type of illness to develop when chickenpox produces lesions that the bacteria may utilize to enter the circulation.
For flu, the virus hurts the respiratory system and changes the immune system. This makes it easier for the bacteria to spread to deeper areas where they can do more damage.
According to data compiled by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), 3.1 people will develop iGAS for every 100,000 occurrences of scarlet fever.
Experts worry that because of the lockdown measures put in place during the pandemic, other seasonal illnesses are now spreading at much greater levels due to the viruses.
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