what is this “particular disease”? What risks?
Cases of invasive Streptococcus A infections, which can be fatal, are higher than usual. This bacterium is responsible for the death of three people in France.
[Mis à jour le 9 décembre 2022 à 23h31] Concern is mounting in France about streptococcal A infections. As bronchiolitis, influenza and the new wave of Covid-19 hit hospitals, this bacterium is being watched with vigilance by doctors. This winter virus is most often benign but is responsible for several serious cases, including three fatalities in recent weeks. Streptococcus A is a bacterium that causes very frequent infections when winter comes, such as angina or scarlet fever, also called “scarlet fever”. François Braun, Minister of Health, answered a question on Friday, December 9, about group A streptococcus and was reassuring. If he recalled that two children and an adult had died because of this bacterium, he specified that the number of cases amounts to “3,000 per year in France” and that the “majority of infections are benign”. “We have reinforced surveillance and we are ready to react. But the intensity has nothing to do with” the other three epidemics, the Minister of Health said again.
The General Directorate of Health (DGS), for its part, noted in a press release published on December 6 “a larger number than usual” of invasive infections with the bacterium, in different regions, including Occitanie, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and New Aquitaine, in addition to a “upsurge in serious forms and deaths”.
Streptococcus A, if it can become dangerous, manifests itself most often and first by very common symptoms: fever, sore throat and difficulty swallowing. To prevent and detect all possible serious forms of the disease, the health authorities have put themselves in working order: the DGS is carrying out “investigations” on the particularities of the strains responsible for the serious forms while doctors are invited to carry out tests. diagnostics on all cases of angina and to report all serious forms to the Regional Health Agencies.
Why does the streptococcus A bacterium worry the health authorities?
In France, streptococcus A has already led “at least 8 children without identified risk factors” to the intensive care unit and three cases have been detected in adults, but these few cases are certainly not the only ones according to the DGS. The increased circulation of the bacterium is also linked to an increase in “serious forms” such as laryngitis, pleuropneumopathy or cardio-respiratory arrest also notes the authority in its press release. However, the authority adds that the cases of Streptococcus A infection are “unrelated” and appear to be caused by “different strains”. Streptococcus A is also worrying because this high and unusual number of serious cases has been observed in the United Kingdom, where more than a dozen children have been affected and where six have died, and in Spain with already two deaths of children infected with the bacteria.
Streptococcus A, what is it?
Streptococcus A, and its cousin Streptococcus B, are bacteria responsible for infections that are mostly mild and especially common during the winter season. Angina, impetigo or scarlet fever (scarlet fever) are some of the forms of infection caused by streptococcus A. In children and people at risk, the bacteria can however trigger more serious and sometimes fatal invasive diseases such as bacteremia, necrotizing skin infections or meningitis and which may be associated with toxic shock syndrome, explains the Institut Pasteur.
What are the symptoms of a strep A infection?
In the case of a so-called non-invasive strep A infection, the symptoms observed are fever, sore throat, mild skin infections, such as rashes, ulcers, bumps or blisters, reports the health agency. Canadian public. With the Women’s Journal, Dr Stéphane Gayet evokes a “very high fever (39-40°C), [des] chills, [des] pain, [une] deterioration of general condition…”
Infections can become invasive, this means that the bacteria “passes into the blood and can cause sepsis” as explained by Brigitte Virey, the president of the national union of pediatricians interviewed by Free lunch. These cases are considered rare, but can cause the following symptoms: “respiratory disorders (pneumonia)”, “destruction of the skin and connective tissues (necrotizing fasciitis)”, but also “fever, a dangerous decrease in blood pressure high blood pressure, vomiting and diarrhea (toxic shock syndrome)”, further states the Canadian health agency. If in doubt, it is best to consult a doctor without delay.
A streptococcal A infection is easily treated with appropriate treatments against the angina or the symptoms observed. Most of the time an antibiotic treatment based on amoxicillin or penicillin is prescribed and makes it possible to avoid the development of an invasive infection.
Barrier gestures such as regular hand washing, wearing a mask or coughing and sneezing into your elbow also help protect yourself and others against streptococcus A as with all winter viruses. Moreover, according to the president of the national union of pediatricians, Brigitte Virey, the gradual abandonment of these barrier measures after two years of use can explain the large number of cases. In recent years cases of strep A have declined and with them our antibodies and immunity against the virus.