Severe strep in the US: 4 updates

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is the latest to report a rise in severe strep A infections, according to a Jan. 5 report from CBS affiliate WWMT

In the first few days of the new year, the hospital has seen four cases of invasive infections caused by group A strep bacteria. The hospital typically sees less than five such cases per year, a spokesperson told the news outlet. 

Infections caused by group A strep bacteria are usually mild, though severe conditions can be triggered if the bacteria enters the bloodstream. Health experts say viral respiratory infections are often concurrent or precede severe group A infections. 

"As the influenza numbers kind of increase, that just puts more people at risk," George Fogg, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, told WWMT. "This is a very fast moving infection. If you have very severe symptoms that seem to be progressing fairly quickly, you should probably seek help." 

Three more notes: 

  1. The CDC issued a health advisory Dec. 22 to alert the medical community of a rise in severe strep A infections among children. The agency recommended providers consider invasive strep among patients with ongoing viral respiratory infections. 


  1. The advisory came a few weeks after an NBC News report that at least four children's hospitals in Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Washington were seeing a rise in invasive group A strep infections. The infections have been linked to the deaths of two children in Denver, The Denver Post reported Dec. 15. At least 29 children in the U.K. have died from invasive group A strep since September. 


  1. Necrotizing fasciitis is one of the severe conditions to which severe strep A infections can lead. It is a rare, quick-spreading bacterial infection better known as "flesh-eating disease" and can lead to sepsis, shock or organ failure if not treated quickly, according to the CDC. 

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