CDC alerts clinicians on severe strep A increase

The CDC issued a health advisory Dec. 22 to alert the medical community of a rise in severe strep A infections among children. 

Earlier this month, NBC News reported that at least four children's hospitals in the U.S. have seen a rise in invasive infections caused by group A strep bacteria. In November, the CDC said it was notified "of a possible increase" of invasive infections among children at a hospital in Colorado. Since then, "potential increases in pediatric [invasive group A strep] cases in other states were subsequently noted," the advisory said. 

Infections caused by group A strep bacteria are usually mild, though on rare occasions the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause invasive group A strep. Invasive infections can trigger pneumonia, cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. At least 21 children in the U.K. have died from invasive group A strep since September.

The rise in severe infections has occurred alongside the nation's surge in respiratory viruses. Viral respiratory infections are often concurrent or precede severe group A strep infections, health experts say. 

The CDC recommends healthcare providers consider invasive strep among patients with ongoing viral respiratory infections. "Illness due to iGAS in persons with known viral infections may manifest as persistent or worsening symptoms following initial improvement," the alert said. 

Read the full advisory and provider recommendations here

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