HOUSTON (KIAH) – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Health Alert concerning pediatric invasive Group A streptococcal (iGAS) infections. In November 2022, CDC was notified of a possible increase in iGAS infections among children at a hospital in Colorado. Potential increases in pediatric iGAS cases in other states were subsequently noted by contributors to the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s provider-based Emerging Infections Network and by certain jurisdictions participating in CDC’s Active Bacterial Core Surveillance System (ABCs).

This increased number of pediatric iGAS cases in some jurisdictions has occurred in the setting of increased circulation of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2, and other respiratory viruses. While the overall number of cases has remained relatively low and iGAS infections remain rare in children, CDC is investigating these reports.  

CW39s Idolina Peralez sat down with Dr. Christina Johns, a pediatrician specializing in pediatric emergency care + Senior Medical Advisor at PM Pediatric Care, who explained what that means. 

Q: So Dr. Johns, is this basically strep? And why are we seeing this health alert?

A: So the organism that is causing these infections is the same organism that causes strep throat and common skin infections, such as impetigo. It’s Group A streptococcus. 

And so yes, it is something that we see every year in the form of strep throat. When strep throat is also accompanied with a rash, that’s called scarlet fever. And that’s really all it is. 

We have antibiotics; we know how to treat this. But what we’re seeing now is a cluster of cases. There are some here in the US, and we’ve seen it overseas in the UK. And so we’re keeping an eye on things closely.

Q: So, should parents be overly concerned about this? Is there a situation where parents need to take their children to the hospital?

A: You know, the thing that is notable is that invasive Group A Strep, and that’s when the germ actually invades the organs and tissues, that is still relatively rare. And this is when children can get quite sick quite quickly.

I think it is something not to be overly fearful of. I think the awareness piece is what’s important. 

So, a fever and your child just isn’t acting right, if it seems, of course, like they’re having difficulty breathing, or if they’re just not acting themselves, that’s always a reason to investigate and at least to connect with your pediatrician for guidance. 

Q: And quickly, what’s the number one way to prevent the spread of Strep A?

A: Same infectious control precautions that we always have. Good hand washing. Don’t share drinks.

Dr. Johns shares more on health issues that impact children on her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok accounts.