Sore throat is one of many ailments to watch out for during ‘immune recovery,’ says Utah doctor

Sore throat is one of many ailments to watch out for during ‘immune recovery,’ says Utah doctor

Like many other illnesses, strep throat is more common this year than in years past, according to Dr. Timothy C. Larsen, a pediatrician at Intermountain Redrock Pediatrics. He encouraged hand washing and not sharing dishes when children return to school. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY – Like many other illnesses, strep throat is more common this year than in years past, according to Dr. Timothy C. Larsen, a pediatrician at Intermountain Redrock Pediatrics.

And he said that if school starts again in January, the number of cases could increase a little more, something that is typical for the beginning of the school year.

Streptococcus in the throat is transmitted by direct contact with saliva, so, fortunately, the spread can be prevented. Larsen suggested that people not share utensils, cups or straws and that they wash their hands before eating.

Larsen said a sore throat is one thing people should manage and treat with antibiotics. He suggested taking children with strep symptoms to the clinic in a day or two. Strep can lead to complications including rheumatic heart disease and kidney problems, but antibiotics can prevent this.

He said strep comes on quickly, usually with a sore throat and fever starting at the same time, and sometimes with swollen lymph nodes and inflamed tonsils or white spots on the tonsils. A runny nose, congestion, or cough are not typical of strep.

Intermountain Healthcare’s GernWatch data, which tracks disease levels, shows limited data from across their care system, but Larsen said it shows levels that are slightly higher than in recent years. He also sees that many people who come to the clinic for same-day appointments are diagnosed with strep throat.

He said they were generally very busy at the St. George, since the number of flu patients continues to rise and is much higher than in the last five years. Larsen said cases of respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, are starting to decrease. He also said he’s seen more cases of COVID-19 that initially looked like strep throat.

Larsen said the increase in multiple illnesses this year can be attributed to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 over the past few years that have led to a slightly weaker immunity.

“Those things had an effect, they helped. Now we’re seeing the downside … now that we’re mixed up, which is what we should be,” Larsen said.

He said it’s like we’re playing some “immunological catch-up,” but with strep throat, the cases don’t seem to be worse even though they’re more common.

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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