Ireland has seen a rise in the disease over the last year.
In a report by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Invasive Group A Streptococcus (iGAS) disease case numbers are much higher than anticipated this year, especially in children under the age of 18.
Group A streptococcus can cause infections such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis, scarlet fever, impetigo, and cellulitis, among other health woes.
Severe cases of iGas can result in infections in the skin, muscle, fat, soft tissue, and respiratory tract, including tonsillitis and scarlet fever, sepsis, and organ failure.
However, these are very rare cases.
In the Report on iGAS infections in Ireland, it stated that 354 cases of the disease were recorded in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period during the pre-pandemic years of 2017–2019, when the average case number for iGAS was 78.
These case numbers are also higher than the documented number for the same time period last year, which was 32 cases.
Between October 2nd, 2022, and August 26th, 2023, a total of 480 cases of iGAS were recorded in Ireland, with close to 40% of the cases in children under the age of 18.
166 of the cases for this timeframe were in children under the age of nine.
According to the HSE, those at higher risk of Strep A are newborns under the age of 28 days, pregnant women who are 37 weeks or more, anyone who has given birth in the last 28 days, people over the age of 75, and those who have recently had chickenpox.
Signs and symptoms of iGAS
Because symptoms of iGas can present like other conditions, it can be hard to pinpoint.
However, the most common symptoms include:
- high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or higher)
- muscle pain or severe muscle aches
- severe pain in a wound
- redness at the site of a wound
- dizziness and confusion
- a flat red rash over large areas of the body
- diarrhoea or vomiting where there is no other obvious cause
Experiencing these symptoms does not always mean a person has iGas.
The HSE recommends that if you or your child feel unwell, trust your instincts and seek medical help right away, as iGAS is a serious infection that can result in sepsis.
Avoid the spread of Strep A
To stop getting and spreading Strep A, ensure to keep yours and your child’s hands clean, especially after using the toilet and before eating.
It is recommended that you stay at home if you have symptoms and keep children out of school or creche until they are feeling better.
Ensure to avoid using soap, facecloths, and razors that do not belong to you, as well as covering coughs and sneezes and discarding used tissues in bins.
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