The weather is changing, children are returning to school and keeping the family healthy is a top priority for parents. It feels like this time of year, there is always “something” going around. Most recently, Group A Streptococcus, a specific type of strep throat, is that “something”.
So what is strep throat? Strep is short for streptococcus, a type of bacteria for which there are several types. Two of them cause most of the strep infections in people: Group A streptococcus and Group B streptococcus. Strep is most commonly seen among children 5-15 years old and shows up usually during winter and early spring.
Information from healthychildren.org, an American Academy of Pediatrics website explains that Group A Streptococcal bacteria (GAS) can be extremely contagious and can cause a range of infections including strep throat and scarlet fever. Most GAS infections are treated with antibiotics like amoxicillin. Symptoms are usually mild and can include:
- Sore throat and pain when swallowing
- Swollen lymph nodes
Group A Strep is spread primarily through contact with bodily fluids, wounds or sores of infected people. So, basic hygiene habits are the best protection from getting sick. These include:
- proper handwashing
- covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
- regularly sanitizing and changing personal items like toothbrushes
- staying home when sick
- treating and covering wounds and sores
Very rarely, but worth noting is that GAS can become worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported clusters of invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) infections in children. iGAS according to the CDC occurs when the bacteria of GAS gets into the bloodstream and past the body’s immune defenses.
If you or your child begins experiencing any symptoms of GAS or feeling unwell in any way, contact a healthcare professional. The earlier treatment begins, the less severe the effects of any infection, no matter the cause.