CDC warns parents about ‘invasive’ diseases affecting children
Here’s what you need to know.
Several children’s hospitals have found an increase in invasive group A strep infections, prompting the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue an official warning.
Group A streptococcus is a type of bacteria that can cause a range of diseases – from sore throats and scarlet fever to skin infections. An invasive A case of strep A refers to the spread of the bacteria to parts of the body that it does not normally reach, such as the bloodstream.
According to the CDC warningthis can cause severe and even fatal illness and requires immediate antibiotic treatment.
UK Health Safety Agency he said in a briefing last week that cases tend to rise sharply in New Year but it appears to have jumped earlier than expected, an unfortunate reality that has also occurred this year with the rise RSV and flu cases.
Children’s hospitals in Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Washington reportedly reported higher-than-average cases this season compared to years past.
“Although the overall number of cases has remained relatively low and (invasive strep group A) infections remain rare in children, CDC is investigating these reports,” the agency said.
It is also added that in some parts of the country the increase in streptococci A occurs at the same time as the “increased circulation” of respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.
Noninvasive diseases caused by Streptococcus A, according to the CDC, include strep throat, scarlet fever, and impetigo, while more serious conditions resulting from invasive Streptococcus A infection include cellulitis with blood infection, pneumonia, necrotizing fasciitis (popularly known as flesh-eating disease). and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), “which can rapidly progress to low blood pressure, multiple organ failure, and even death,” according to the official announcement.
Streptococcus A is transmitted by contact with droplets from an infected person when coughing, sneezing or talking. Group A strep cases usually follow a seasonal pattern, with a peak in between December and April in the USA It is most common in children aged 5 to 15 years.
Signs of a group A strep infection, according to the Colorado Department of Health, include:
Signs that a child’s strep A infection may be invasive include:
Change in mental status. “You may not be able to wake the child or the child may not respond normally,” Dr. Ethan Wiener, chief of emergency medicine at NYU Langone Health Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, he told the news outlet. “It’s different from a child who feels blah or lies on the couch all day.”
Early signs of necrotizing fasciitis, which according to the CDC include: a red, warm, or swollen area of skin that spreads quickly; severe pain, including pain outside an area of skin that is red, warm, or swollen; fever. Signs in the later stage are: ulcers, blisters or black spots on the skin; changes in skin color; pus or oozing from the infected area; dizziness; fatigue; diarrhea or nausea.
Early signs of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, which according to the CDC includes: fever and chills, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting. Later signs, which usually develop 24 to 48 hours after the first symptoms, include: low blood pressure; faster than normal heart rate; rapid breathing; signs of organ failure, such as inability to produce urine or yellow eyes.
High fever and shortness of breath, as well as “difficulty coordinating swallowing with breathing” in young children, “should prompt parents to call their doctor or seek emergency care, depending on the severity of the situation,” Dr. Ishminder Kaur, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UCLA, David Geffen School of Medicine said TODAY.
In addition to receiving the chicken pox vaccine and flu injections, to prevent streptococcal A infections, the CDC recommends washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after coughing or sneezing and before preparing food or eating. You should also cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw it away immediately, or use your upper sleeve or elbow as a last resort—never your hands—to prevent the spread of germs.
However, as always, when in doubt about your child’s condition, seek professional medical advice.
For more detailed information, visit the CDC website.