A tidal wave of sniffs and sneezes marked this year’s cold and flu season, with a noticeably brutal impact. The rogues’ gallery of illnesses – RSV, flu, COVID-19 – expanded its ranks. To add insult to injury, even the trusty Tylenol went AWOL. And amidst this tumult, parents have been grappling with the causes of symptoms of Strep A, an unwelcome addition to the list of culprits.
However, Strep A has recently emerged as a major health concern. Since September, 15 children under the age of 15 in the United Kingdom have reportedly perished from the bacterial infection. The CDC has not seen an increase in cases in the United States, officials there told reporters earlier this week. An authority on infectious diseases in children agrees.
Dr. Anthony Flores, M.D., chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX, says, “In the United States, we are not experiencing the same growth rates, and it is uncertain if we ever will.”
Even so, medical experts advise parents to keep an eye out but not panic. Dr. Jessica Madden, M.D., board-certified pediatrician and medical director of Aeroflow Breastpumps, says, “Parents of young children are probably feeling overwhelmed right now, but it’s important for them to know the signs of Strep A so they can take their kids to the doctor if they show signs of it.” A throat culture is all that’s needed to diagnose streptococcus a, and the infection is quickly cured with medication.
Causes, transmission, symptoms, and treatment options for strep A are discussed here, with input from Dr. Madden and other specialists.
Why Does Strep A Occur?
“Strep A,” also known as Group A Streptococcus, is a bacterial [disease] that usually causes infections in the throat, according to Dr. Matthew Harris, M.D., of the Cohen Children’s Medical Center’s emergency room.
Despite the media attention, this is nothing new; you may have had strep throat as a kid and probably heard of it. “Group A strep [or] the strep throat bug is a common infection in children,” Dr. Flores explains. Strep throat has been around for quite some time, so pediatricians have plenty of experience treating it.
Strep A is contagious, according to Dr. Madden. “Strep A lives in people’s noses and throats,” Dr. Madden explains. The virus is contagious and easily spreads through the air when people sneeze or cough. It’s something kids pick up at school or childcare, she says. There is currently no strep A vaccination available.
Strep A and Its Potential Complications
Strep A isn’t dangerous, but doctors insist it must be treated quickly to avoid complications. Dr. Sara Siddiqui, M.D., a pediatrician at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone and NYU Langone Huntington Medical Group, says, “If there is a delay in treatment—seven to 10 days—undetected strep A can affect the heart and kidneys.”
Rheumatic fever, a potentially fatal complication of untreated strep A, can harm any organ in the body, including the heart and the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, Dr. Siddiqui emphasizes that significant consequences are uncommon because of medical advancements. Since the disease spreads rapidly among children, prompt identification and treatment are crucial in containing its spread.
How Strep A Makes You Feel
The most frequent strain of Strep, according to Dr. A painful throat is one of the symptoms. Additional signs could be:
- fever (but not necessarily)
- Pain that makes swallowing difficult
- Rashy skin
Infection with Strep Type A: Diagnosis
If you suspect your child has group A strep, see a pediatrician or go to the nearest urgent care facility, as recommended by Dr. Harris. A tonsillar swab can be done at the doctor’s office. A lab will likely do a more precise culture test if the result is negative. In most cases, families should expect to hear back within two days.
Dr. Harris said a quick antigen test from a throat swab is used to make the diagnosis. When these tests come back positive, you can rest assured that it’s time to start taking action. Results from a confirmatory bacterial culture are normally available within 24 hours after shipment when tests come back negative.
Although Dr. Siddiqui says it’s unusual for a youngster to need emergency care for strep A, he or she may still need it in some cases. “If you have any concerns about how your child is behaving, listen to your instincts,” advises Dr. Siddiqui. Watch out for signs of nausea, vomiting, excessive fatigue, and dehydration. If your child isn’t eating, drinking, or going to the bathroom regularly, you should immediately call a doctor.
If a pediatrician or urgent care center cannot see your child immediately, Dr. Siddiqui recommends taking him or her to the emergency room. You probably won’t require this course, but it’s not out of the question.
How Is Strep A Treated?
Antibiotics can usually cure strep A. Dr. Harris notes that amoxicillin in liquid form is typically the first line of defense. However, he claims that liquid amoxicillin is currently in short supply.
However, there are alternate choices. Dr. Siddiqui believes penicillin is one among them. Cephalexin and clindamycin are alternatives to penicillin that Dr. Madden says can be given to children with penicillin allergies.
According to Dr. Madden, “It is really important that every dose of antibiotic your child is prescribed be taken to prevent complications.”
However, Dr. Madden and the CDC stress that these problems are quite uncommon and that the prognosis is favorable with appropriate care.
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