Over the past several weeks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been investigating a rise in invasive group A strep infections among children following reports of increases in pediatric infections in Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and other states. Group A strep infections can cause a range of illnesses from strep throat, scarlet fever, skin and soft tissue infections (such as impetigo) to more severe (but rarer) diseases such as sepsis and toxic shock syndrome.

The increase in pediatric cases has come at a time when other respiratory and seasonal illnesses, like COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are circulating. People who have or recently had a viral infection like these may be at a higher risk of developing invasive group A strep infection. The Virginia Department of Health and Fairfax County Health Department have shared advisories with medical providers and also recommend that parents, and the public, learn the ways a person with invasive group A strep can exhibit symptoms, such as necrotizing fasciitis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, and cellulitis. Parents or caregivers who recognize these symptoms in their child, family members, or themselves should immediately seek medical care. It does not appear that there are increases in the Fairfax Health District at this time but health officials are continuing to monitor the reports given the data across the country.

Additionally, parents should make sure everyone in the household is up to date with flu and chickenpox vaccines since getting these infections can increase the risk for invasive group A strep infections.

“At this time, our group A strep cases are mostly in older adults, not children. We are keeping an eye on it, but are not seeing the increases reported across the country at this time,” said Fairfax County Health Department Spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell.

There is a national shortage of liquid antibiotic (amoxicillin suspension) most often prescribed to children to treat group A infections. The shortage may last for several months. Anyone unable to access liquid amoxicillin should talk with their doctor about alternative antibiotic options. The American Academy of Pediatrics shares information on group A strep infections and for more information on the recent uptick in group A strep infections among children, visit the CDC website.

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