Have you heard about the recent Streptococcus A outbreak? It has been causing severe illness in people of all ages and can have serious complications, which can be deadly. With cases popping up worldwide, it’s best to stay informed about protecting yourself from infection.
What Is Strep A?
According to the CDC, Streptococcus pyogenes, or “strep A,” is a widespread bacteria that can cause several different infections. Strep A can cause throat and skin infections and more severe conditions like pneumonia, strep throat, and scarlet fever.
The current outbreak is concerning due to invasive Strep A (or iGAS), which infects or spreads to other areas of the body. For people with a weakened or underdeveloped immune system, invasive Strep A can cause necrotizing fasciitis and sepsis, which can be deadly.
Symptoms of Strep A
If you have strep A, you may suddenly experience a sore throat with a fever. Other symptoms can include headaches, nausea, and stomach pain. If the infection spreads to your nose, you may have a runny or congested nose.
How to Avoid Strep A
If you’re worried about the recent outbreak of strep A, follow these simple steps to protect yourself and your family. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially after coming into contact with someone who shows symptoms. You should also avoid sharing personal items with others.
Treatment for Strep A
You can manage milder strep throat symptoms at home with rest and over-the-counter medication. Drink plenty of fluids and gargle warm salt water to help soothe your sore throat. Over-the-counter pain relievers containing ibuprofen or acetaminophen can reduce pain and inflammation. If symptoms persist for more than a few days without relief, or you develop new or more severe symptoms like a rash or high fever, consult a doctor.
The most common antibiotics to treat strep throat are penicillin and amoxicillin. They prevent a localized infection from advancing and spreading.
Severe cases of iGAS can lead to complications such as pneumonia or rheumatic fever, so remember to seek medical care if you’re experiencing severe symptoms.