Strep cases in hospitals jump as antibiotic supply runs low

Children's hospitals scattered around the U.S. are reporting a significant increase in strep throat cases amid a monthslong shortage of amoxicillin, NBC News reported Oct. 28. 

Compared to fall 2022, Nemours Children's Primary Care in Florida is seeing more than twice as many strep cases this year. In Delaware and Pennsylvania, clinicians have seen a 300% to 400% increase in strep throat since school started.

It's unclear why strep cases are peaking, but experts told NBC it might be because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the normal trends of flu, respiratory syncytial virus and strep.

Data from Epic Research, which tracks strep throat infection trends since the start of the pandemic, shows an increase in strep among almost all age groups other than patients younger than 1 and teenagers. 

Invasive group A strep is spurring the current increase in emergency room visits, and it was prevalent in the surge seen between February and April. 

"I've been practicing emergency medicine for 25 years, and I have not seen strep throat as frequently as I have in these past six or eight months," Jennifer Stevenson, DO, emergency department director of Henry Ford Medical Center Fairlane in Dearborn, Mich., told NBC News

Dr. Stevenson said strep is the second most common reason for emergency department visits at her hospital. 

The rise in infections is facing a shortage of amoxicillin, which fell into shortage in October 2022. Currently, 48 solutions of the popular antibiotic are in low supply, and eight are available, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. 

Amoxicillin can quell symptoms within 24 hours, but as the yearlong shortage drags on, Dr. Stevenson said she expects cases to continue rising and treatment availability to be more sparse.


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