Invasive Strep A disease spreading in Västerbotten

The image shows a culture of the bacterium A streptococcus on an agar plate.
The image shows a culture of the bacterium A streptococcus on an agar plate.

An unusually high number of cases of invasive streptococcus A (Strep A) have been reported in Sweden in recent months. In Europe, several children have also died due to the infection. Even in Västerbotten, the infection control agency reports that they have discovered several cases of the infection. Patients have received hospital care, writes VK newspaper.

Västerbottens län 13 mars 2023 10:54

Last autumn, the World Health Organization sounded the alarm that several children in Europe, younger than ten years old, had died due to the infection. The also saw a clear rise.

– It is important to remember that it is a serious disease, says state epidemiologist Anders Lindblom to Läkartidningen.

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The image shows a culture of the bacterium A streptococcus on an agar plate.

Assistant infection control doctor Therese Thunberg says that they have also had a number of cases of invasive Strep A in Västerbotten. She does not know if any children have been affected.

– In children, invasive Strep A usually causes scarlet fever, while adults get strep throat, she tells VK.

When bacteria is found in the blood it can lead to a more serious infection. This is what is usually called blood poisoning (sepsis).

So far this year, four cases have been reported to the Public Health Authority. In the last ten years, the annual number of reported cases has been between five and 26 cases.

The infection usually occurs via families or within other groups of people, such as schools. Since it is a bacterial infection, it is necessary to be close to a person in order to be infected

– For example, we have had a slightly smaller outbreak of scarlet fever in preschools, says Thunberg.

It is when you get Strep A for the first time that you can get scarlet fever, which causes rashes on the body. The tongue also becomes red with raised dots.

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Assistant infection control doctor Therese Thunberg says that they have also had a number of cases of invasive A streptococcus in Västerbotten.

According to Lindblom, there is no indication that this is a more serious strain, which causes more serious symptoms or spreads more easily.

– The increase is probably due to the fact that we have increased contact in society again and that general immunity levels are lower. This is actually the first winter season in a long time that we don't have any social restrictions, Lindblom tells Läkartidningen.

Of those adults who have become ill, there have been people who required hospital care.

– It's a very fast infection and you can also get very sick, says Thunberg.

The main remedy is penicillin.

Strep A - The facts

Common symptoms of strep A include:

flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, swollen glands or an aching body

sore throat (strep throat or tonsillitis)

a rash that feels rough, like sandpaper (scarlet fever)

scabs and sores (impetigo)

pain and swelling (cellulitis)

severe muscle aches

nausea and vomiting

Strep A infections are more common in children, but adults can also sometimes get them.

Most strep A infections are not serious and can be treated with antibiotics.


 
 
 
 
 
 
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