Streptococcal infections have persisted at high levels so far this spring, even compared to pre-pandemic years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said unpublished data from its National Surveillance Program showed emergency department visits for regular strep infections reached a five-year high in February and March. There is
a report A study by Epic Research, which analyzes electronic health records, found that the incidence of strep throat in February was nearly 30% higher than the previous peak in February 2017.
Preliminary data suggests the upward trend continued into March, the group told NBC News.
The CDC was unable to confirm Epic’s stats due to lack of data on common streptococcal infections since 2017.
But Dr. Michael Capello, deputy chief of pediatrics at Advocate Children’s Hospital in the Chicago area, said, “There’s definitely an increase in common strep throats,” compared to pre-pandemic levels. rice field.
Usually, the incidence of streptococcus is highest between December and April, but last year doctors started seeing cases in September.
The incidence of invasive group A streptococcal infections is also higher than normal. Unlike common streptococci, invasive cases are severe and can be life-threatening. They occur when bacteria spread to areas of the body that are normally sterile, such as the bloodstream, lungs, joints, and bones.
A CDC spokesperson said Wednesday that “many states are seeing higher-than-normal cases of invasive Group A streptococci, especially in children under the age of 17 and adults over the age of 65.”
CDC issued a health warning In December on an increase in pediatric cases of invasive group A streptococcal infections.
‘Unprecedented’ increase in invasive Streptococcus A
Cleveland Clinic Children’s pediatrician Dr. Maureen Ahman says there has been a significant increase in invasive Streptococcus A cases in her practice.
“It’s still rare compared to all other childhood illnesses, but we’re seeing an increase,” Ahmann said.
America record millions According to the CDC, the annual number of non-invasive Group A streptococci is only about 14,000 to 25,000 invasive infections. Between 1,500 and 2,300 people die each year from invasive cases.
Dr. Sam Dominguez, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Colorado and a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said his hospital saw about 80 cases of invasive streptococcus between October and March. In contrast, there were about 5 to 10 cases each year in pandemic years, compared to about 20 per year before that.
“We’ve really seen an unprecedented increase in Group A Streptococci,” Dominguez said, “for at least a decade, probably longer, and looking back, there’s probably more here than we’ve seen.”
Invasive streptococci can cause skin infections such as carnivorous disease, lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia, or streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, an immune response that leads to organ failure. at the CDC Recorded There have been 117 cases of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome so far this year, compared with a total of 45 last year.
Why aren’t streptococcal cases declining?
The non-peer-reviewed Epic Research findings are based on clinic and emergency room visits across more than 1,100 hospitals and more than 24,900 clinics in the United States, and one healthcare institution in Lebanon, where the group collects data. Based on
Streptococcal pharyngitis was reported to be most common in children aged 4 to 13 years, but there was an increase in all age groups.
Doctors have several theories as to why streptococcal infections persist at high levels.
One is that Covid mitigation measures during the pandemic have reduced cases, making people more vulnerable afterwards. respiratory virus undulation The United States saw this winter. Cappello said these viral infections can weaken people’s immune systems or irritate the protective layers of the nose, mouth and throat, making them more susceptible to developing streptococci.
“Alternatively, this could be another strain of group A streptococcus that we haven’t seen yet,” Cappello said.
But doctors are optimistic that cases will drop soon. Dominguez and Cappello said so far he has seen fewer cases of invasive streptococcus in hospitals in April than he had in previous months.
“We expect this to mean we are on a downtrend,” Capello said.
A shortage of antibiotics is a challenge
A shortage of the antibiotic amoxicillin has resulted in a very high incidence of streptococcal infections.Food and Drug Administration reported a shortage A powdered version of the drug was launched in October, but the problem is still unsolved.
Ahmann said some Ohio parents are having trouble filling their children’s liquid amoxicillin prescriptions.
“A month ago, if you wanted liquid amoxicillin, you could actually print out a script and give it to a parent and say, ‘Listen, last I heard, there’s this down the road. But if not, try it here,” Ahman said. “Parents literally go from drugstore to drugstore looking for someone who has it.”
However, she added, anecdotally, the shortage appears to have finally eased.
Doctors recommend getting your child tested for strep if they have a red or sore throat that makes it painful to swallow, fever, swollen lymph nodes, or a rash.
“If your child suddenly doesn’t communicate with you, has difficulty getting aroused, is inconsistent, is working hard to breathe, etc., it’s definitely a quick trip to the emergency room. It is a trip of