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CDC tracks streptococcal infections linked to flesh-eating disease

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In Georgia, the state’s Department of Public Health tracks iGAS infections, and on Friday, a spokesperson said the agency is seeing an increase in cases. However, the DPH was unable to disclose the number of cases seen recently. Under DPH guidelines, all Georgia physicians, labs, and other healthcare professionals are required by law to report patients with iGAS within seven days.

The spokesperson said additional tests were being performed on samples sent to the CDC.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said they are not seeing an increase in the number of patients with Group A strep infections, but they remain vigilant.

“Children’s recommends that all children and adults be vaccinated against influenza and chickenpox, as group A streptococcus can appear as a secondary infection,” the hospital system said in a statement. “Parents should consult their child’s pediatrician with concerns about prolonged or delayed onset of fever during a respiratory illness.”

Group A Streptococcus bacteria can cause milder but still painful illnesses – such as strep throat, commonly called strep throat. Symptoms can include sore throat, pain when swallowing, fever, red and swollen tonsils and swollen lymph nodes. Children may have symptoms that also include headache, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. People with strep throat may also have a rash, known as scarlet fever.

In contrast, more dangerous iGAS infections “are associated with high mortality rates and require prompt treatment, including appropriate antibiotic therapy,” the CDC said.

Health authorities in Britain have been tracking cases of iGAS, which remain rare there. In early December, authorities reported five deaths recorded within a week of a diagnosis of iGAS in children under 10 in England. During the last season, where Group A streptococcal infections were particularly high, there were four deaths in the same age group in the same period.

Exposure to someone with strep throat puts them at greater risk of iGAS infection, the CDC said. Strep throat is common among schoolchildren ages 5 to 15 and typically peaks in the US from December through April. Cases of iGAS are particularly high when flu levels are high, and this flu season is shaping up to be the worst in at least a decade.

People who are already sick or have recently had a viral infection, such as the flu or chickenpox, are at higher risk for iGAS, according to the CDC. Elderly people, nursing home residents, people with chronic medical conditions, people with wounds or skin conditions, intravenous drug users, homeless people, and Native American populations are also considered to be at higher risk for iGAS.

The CDC is urging parents to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of iGAS and seek immediate medical attention. Here is a summary of the symptoms of the most dangerous complications:

— Necrotizing fasciitis: Early symptoms include a red, warm, or swollen area of ​​skin that spreads rapidly, severe pain, and fever. Later symptoms may include ulcers, blisters or black spots on the skin, change in skin color, pus or discharge from the infected area, dizziness, fatigue, nausea or diarrhea.

— Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome: the illness begins with fever and chills, aches, nausea, and vomiting. But, within 24 to 48 hours, more serious symptoms develop, such as low blood pressure, faster-than-normal heart rate, rapid breathing, and organ failure. Kidney failure, for example, can be detected if the person stops urinating. Liver failure can be detected if they are bleeding or bruising a lot, and their eyes may turn yellow.

— Cellulite: Symptoms appear as a red, swollen, painful area of ​​skin – usually on the feet and legs – that is warm and tender to the touch. “The skin may appear bumpy, like the peel of an orange, or blisters may appear on the affected skin. Some people may also develop fever and chills,” the CDC said.

A bacterial iGAS infection in someone who already has a viral infection from another illness may show up in a patient as ongoing or worsening symptoms after an initial improvement in the illness.

Editor Helena Oliviero and the Associated Press compiled this report