One of the largest children’s hospitals in Missouri is seeing an alarming surge of children with strep A symptoms — as the epidemic continues to spread across the US.
Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital has had seven children in recent weeks with symptoms such as ‘sticky’ eyes, lumps behind the ears and swallowing problems – leading to dehydration.
Doctors were puzzled by the case – but further investigation revealed that each child was suffering from Strep A. Commonly, mild bacterial infections are causing more hospitalizations in the US, UK and Europe.
Missouri doctors note that these are not common symptoms of strep A infection. Some experts fear that lockdowns can make children immune to common infections, making Strep A and other infections more severe than usual.
Two Strep A children have so far been confirmed to have died in the outbreak — both in Colorado — but officials in six states have reported a sharp increase in hospital admissions in recent weeks. Across the pond in England, 19 children died of the disease.
There are reports from at least six hospitals across the US that Strep A cases are either higher than usual or more severe. Two children have been confirmed dead in Colorado as part of the outbreak. CDC does not report real-time national Strep A data.
Symptoms of strep A include a rash and sores all over the body, flushed cheeks, sore throat, muscle aches, and fever. It is a relatively mild disease that does not cause many deaths in children every year
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged that school closures, mask orders, lockdowns and other outbreak orders have contributed to the severity of Strep A this year.
Pandemic prevention measures such as school closures have contributed to the explosion of flu and RSV cases.
In turn, these trigger many bacterial infections, such as Strep A, which often strike after a viral infection when the immune system is vulnerable.
‘We haven’t seen them together in such a short time.’ Dr. Angela Myers, Director of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Mercy b The Washington Post.
Typical symptoms of strep A are rash, fever, sore throat, flushed cheeks, muscle aches, and sores on the skin.
While other, more serious symptoms can be seen in invasive group A Strep cases (iGAS) – eye problems and discharge are not related to the infection.
Hospitals across the country are reporting an increase in the number of Strep A cases this year compared to last year.
In Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Washington and West Virginia, local hospitals are reporting significant increases compared to previous years.
At Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, this year has quadrupled to 60 compared to previous years.
Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver reported two deaths from strep A last week, the first confirmed pediatric deaths of this flu season.
The state has recorded 32 children’s Strep A hospitalizations this year, state officials said Wednesday.
That’s a five-fold jump from 2010, and a significant increase from the 19 recorded in 2019 – the last year of pre-pandemic data.
Doctors at Phoenix Children’s Hospital reported a sharp increase in cases. NBC last week.
The CDC says between 14,000 and 25,000 Americans are infected with the virus each year, and 1,500 to 2,300 die. Most of them died of old age.
Issues usually don’t occur until mid-winter, but they’re especially bad this year with the flu and RSV coming out.
CDC admits lockdowns, mask orders, school closures are exacerbating the Strep A outbreak
The leading U.S. health officials have finally acknowledged that the outbreak restrictions they support are the result of a surge in respiratory bugs in hospitals that are now overcrowded.
Unseasonably high numbers of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases have overwhelmed health care systems across the country.
There are signs that both viruses may already be at their peak, but last week the country suffered more damage as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was investigating an increase in severe Strep A infections. It has killed more than ten children in the UK and is on the rise across Europe.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, the CDC said it is ‘hearing from some doctors and state health departments about an increase in IgA infections in children in some parts of the United States and is investigating this increase.’
In a dramatic change of tone, the agency added: ‘As with other infections during the Covid-19 pandemic, iGAS infections have declined significantly.
‘Mitigating measures used during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic (eg, school and workplace closures, masks) have helped reduce the spread of many viruses and bacteria.’
The CDC doesn’t track infections the way it tracks viral illnesses like Covid, influenza, and RSV, but real-time national infection and death figures are unclear.
The agency said it was testing for Strep A last week after hearing about these improvements from doctors on the ground.
A spokeswoman for the agency told DailyMail.com on Thursday that it is unclear whether the US is actually experiencing more Strep A cases than usual, despite the anecdotal reports.
This year’s severe flu season in the US may signal an increase in bacterial infections.
A combination of influenza, RSV and Covid hit this nation all at once – in what many experts describe as a ‘triple pandemic’.
Eighty percent of U.S. hospital beds were occupied earlier this month as annual respiratory virus infections hit their peak this year.
This is an all-time high during the Covid pandemic. Experts have described it as the worst flu season since the 2009 swine flu outbreak.
While flu infections peaked at 43,960 weekly cases earlier this month, the most recent CDC data showed a 30 percent drop in the week ending Dec. 10. to 31,287.
RSV cases are also declining, with the CDC reporting 4,391 infections last week. That’s a 63 percent drop from the week before and the lowest total since late September.
Experts have blamed restrictions and orders related to the virus, creating a more ‘immune naïve’ population because common viruses have stopped spreading.
Dr. Kathryn Moffett, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at West Virginia University Medicine in Morgantown, told DailyMail.com that her hospital is seeing more cases than usual.
In previous years, she blamed unusual types of flu — viruses like influenza and RSV that rarely spread.
‘We stopped going viral. We didn’t have the usual. [circulation] Where to expect RSV and pneumonia [in young children]” she told DailyMail.com.
We have done a lot with social distancing and masks [caused this].
The Amoxicillin shortage currently hitting the country is exacerbating the situation.
Antibiotics are often used to prevent bacterial infections in young children with illnesses such as the flu and RSV.
Supply chain problems and increased demand during an unusually brutal flu season have left the drug in short supply across the US.
The CDC, which supports many of these, even admitted this week: ‘Mitigating measures used in the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic (eg, school and workplace closings, masks) helped reduce the spread of many viruses and bacteria.’