‘Very, very unusual’: MUSC doctors see spike in Invasive Strep cases

Doctors at MUSC in Charleston say cases of a certain type of strep have risen in children in high enough numbers to cause concern.
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 5:36 AM EDT|Updated: May. 29, 2023 at 9:14 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Doctors at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston say cases of a certain type of strep have risen in children in high enough numbers to cause concern.

Cases of Invasive Group A Strep have climbed to more than a dozen, according to Allison Eckard, the division chief of Pediatrics infectious Diseases at MUSC. The increase is something doctors are calling “very, very unusual.”

“You’re the one who knows your child the best, and if things don’t quite seem right to you or there’s a very high fever, muscle aches, chills — things that would make you a little more suspicious that other things are going on, it’s very important to go earlier to seek medical care than waiting longer,” Eckard says.

Non-invasive Group A strep and Strep Throat are very common, Eckard says. Invasive Group A Strep means the same bacteria that causes Strep throat is more aggressive and severe. Eckard says doctors started seeing an increase amount of invasive Group A Strep in December.

Strep throat is more common in school-aged children between the ages of 5 and 15 years old. Invasive Group A Strep can be found across age ranges but is common in children less than one. Eckard says it’s important to watch for more serious signs and symptoms when it comes to your child.

She goes on to say there are a number of theories right now as to why they’re seeing more cases in invasive group A Strep: One is that people weren’t exposed to this bacteria much during the pandemic, and a second suggests they’re seeing a cluster of cases around this short period of time that they would normally see over a two-year span.

“It’s not something that you need to panic about; it’s just about increasing your awareness, and if your child or you, for example, has a bad sore throat and a high fever, to take it seriously because this bacteria can be very bad and progress very rapidly,” Eckard says.

The earlier you can start on antibiotics, she says, the better chance you have of not advancing to a more severe infection.