This month the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) released a statement warning caregivers about an uptick in cases of illnesses related to the bacteria Streptococcus A, also known as Group A Strep (GAS).
The agency reported a significant uptick in cases of scarlet fever and invasive Group A Strep (iGAS).
These invasive cases of GAS, while still rare, have also been linked to 5 deaths in children according to UK data. News reports have mentioned up to 15 deaths in children and teens.
We spoke to experts about the potential risks of this disease spreading widely in North America and how parents can recognize symptoms.
GAS is a bacteria that causes the dreaded strep throat that can be common in children.
The bacteria can also cause more severe disease including scarlet fever, which results in rash and fever, along with impetigo, which results in a sores.
The UK warning was issued after the agency saw 851 cases reported in one week in mid-November this year versus an average of 186 in the same week in previous years, what is raising alarm is the number of deaths – though still small in number at under 10 – from invasive GAS (iGAS).
Dr. Jessica Madden, a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist who also works as the medical director for Aeroflow Breastpumps alongside her own practice, says that one of the challenges with this spike in Strep A infections, particularly strep throat, is that symptoms of other conditions can mask its presence.
Additionally, children may have multiple diseases at the same time with similar symptoms.