In shocking news from the United Kingdom, an outbreak of Strep A is killing more children than the COVID-19 virus killed in 2020.
According to official statistics, at least nine children in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have died as a result of invasive group A Streptococcus (iGAS) infection, in which germs enter the circulation. “At some point, the immunological deficit caused by lockdowns has to be compensated,” says Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford.
There have been substantial rises in Group A Strep infections in the past, but what is new this time is the high levels of viral co-circulation in the population, as well as the high number of deaths in youngsters.
As a precautionary step, the government is now considering distributing antibiotics to schoolchildren. “Lord Markham mentioned in the House of Lords yesterday that the UK Health Security Agency is watching the situation and evaluating those kinds of issues in those schools where there is an illness,” says schools minister Nick Gibb.
“This is an ongoing problem; the UKHSA is working closely with those institutions and will provide additional guidance later. However, in schools where there is an infection, this may be a possibility.”
“We have given doctors instructions that, where necessary, they should be proactively prescribing penicillin as the best line of defense on this, and that, where there is a spread in primary schools, which we know is the primary vector for this, whether they should be working with local health protection teams, and sometimes actually looking at the use of antibiotics on a prophylactic basis,” says health minister Nick Markham.
Here are the signs of Strep A and how to avoid infection. Continue reading—and don’t miss these sure signs you’ve already had COVID to protect your health and the health of others.
1. Sore Throat
According to specialists, a painful throat is one of the early indicators of Strep A. “The fundamental distinction between strep throat and sore throat is that strep is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria, whereas other sore throats are caused by other types of bacteria, viruses, or irritants such as allergies,” according to to Go Health Urgent Care.
“One identifying symptom of bacterial pharyngitis like strep throat is having a red sore throat. Tonsils in a patient will appear swollen and inflamed, with a darker hue than the surrounding tissue. The redness may also appear as streaks, or the patient may see tiny bright red spots on the roof of the mouth and neck.
A bacterial throat infection can also cause prominent white spots, splotches, or streaks on the tonsils, as well as a red painful throat. If a patient experiences this, he or she should see a doctor to get tested for strep. Many infections are caused by less hazardous bacteria and do not require antibiotic therapy, therefore testing is critical.
A painful throat caused by Strep A is frequently accompanied by headaches. “Headaches are another common strep throat symptom,” explains Stone Oak Pediatrics. “Their severity might range from modest to terrible. If your child’s headaches become more frequent or worsen, see a pediatrician right away.
“If you have a headache as well as a sore throat, it could be a viral or bacterial infection,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. “They have comparable symptoms If you have a runny nose, cough, and hoarse voice, you are most likely suffering from a viral illness rather than a bacterial infection. There are no drugs available to treat viral infections. The virus will vanish on its own. You should be feeling better in approximately a week.
High fevers should be watched closely. When in doubt, consult a doctor or a pediatrician. “A fever over 100’F is another common sign of Strep throat in youngsters,” explains Stone Oak Pediatrics. “A lower temperature may end up being a symptom of a viral infection and not strep throat, so be sure to take notice of that. With a viral illness, most fevers should go away on their own within one or two days, and other symptoms should begin to fade by the third day.
When a youngster is ill, it is always a concern “According to the UK Health Security Agency. “GAS infections can cause a sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle aches, among other symptoms. As a parent, if your child appears seriously ill, you should trust your instincts.
One of the first indicators of Strep A is a rash caused by scarlet fever. “Scarlet fever is normally a mild sickness, but it is extremely contagious,” according to the UK Health Security Agency. “As a result, keep an eye out for symptoms such as a sore throat, headache, and fever, as well as a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel in your youngster. The rash may be more difficult to identify visually on darker skin, but it will have a sandpapery feel.”
Doctors warn that older persons are also a danger of contracting Strep A. “The prevalence of iGAS is highest at extremes of age — in children and the elderly,” says Michael Marks, an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
How to protect yourself and stay safe
Some simple precautions can help guard against Strep A. “iGAS is spread through close contact with an infected individual and can be transmitted through coughs and sneezes or from a wound,” according to the UK Health Security Agency.
Some people can have the bacteria present in their bodies without feeling poorly or displaying any symptoms of infections and while they can pass it on, the danger of dissemination is significantly greater when a person is unwell.
Washing your hands frequently is the most effective technique to avoid contracting or spreading group A strep. This is especially crucial after coughing or sneezing, as well as before preparing or consuming meals “According to the CDC. “To avoid group A strep infections, you should do the following:
• When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose.
• Place used tissues in the trashcan.
• If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
• Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
• If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
You should also wash glasses, cutlery, and plates after they have been used by someone unwell. Once washed, these things are safe for others to use.
There is no vaccine to prevent strep, but there is treatment. “Antibiotics and, sometimes, steroids to minimize inflammation are used to treat a strep infection,” explains Karla O’Dell, MD, an otolaryngologist at Keck Medicine of USC and assistant professor of clinical otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at USC.
Gargling with saltwater is fine if it feels good, but it will not speed up or prevent an infection. An otolaryngologist should be consulted if you have recurring infections.