While health officials are doing everything they can to avoid the so-called “tripledemic” this winter, in which cases of COVID-19, RSV, and the flu are all increasing at the same time, another potentially life-threatening infection is raising additional concerns.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are looking into a possible increase in invasive group A strep (iGAS) infections among children in the United States. Invasive group A streptococcal (GAS) disease is a serious infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. The bacteria generally causes mild diseases such as strep throat and skin sores, but it can also cause more severe infections such as necrotizing fasciitis and toxic shock syndrome.
Invasive GAS disease can be transmitted through respiratory secretions, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of invasive GAS disease may include fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, and redness or swelling. In severe cases, the infection can cause sepsis, which is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to infection, organ failure, and death.
Since November 1, there have been a total of eleven cases of the disease that have been documented in the Denver metropolitan region, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The ages of those infected varied from 10 months old to 6 years old. According to the health officials, two children among those infected have died. Information regarding their exact ages was not made public.
There is currently no vaccine available to protect against strep A. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that parents ensure that their children are up-to-date on vaccinations against the flu and chickenpox. According to the information provided, a child’s exposure to one of these diseases may place them at a higher chance of contracting strep A.