Strep Awareness Month (July)

Strep Awareness Month (July)

What a coincidence, July is not only the best month of the year, (think cookouts and fireworks), and UV (ultra violet) safety month, but it’s also strep awareness month. Streptococcus, more commonly referred to as “strep” is a bacterium often found in the throat and on the skin. Usually involved in mild illness like strep throat or impetigo, some strep related illness can be life threatening.
A strep bacterium is spread through the direct contact of mucous from infected persons or from contact with infected sores on the skin.
A person carrying strep but not showing symptoms can still spread it, but the chances are lower. Treatment with antibiotics for 24 hours makes it unlikely to spread strep, but the medication should be taken as prescribed even if you ” “feel better” .
If someone in your house has/had a strep infection it is unlikely that it will be spread on household items such as doorknobs and dishes, but I would still use a disinfectant around the house that states it kills strep bacteria.
Becoming infected with group A-streptococcal infection doesn”t necessarily mean you will get sick. Strep infection can range from not being sick at all to becoming mildly ill such as strep throat, or at worst, severe illness like necrotizing fasciitis the so called ” “flesh eating disease” , or streptococcal toxic shock syndrome that could lead to death.
The CDC reports about  ” “10%-15% of patients with invasive group A-streptococcal disease die from their infection, approximately 25% of patients with necrotizing fasciitis and more than 35% with STSS (Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome) die.” 

The good news is that invasive group A-streptococcal disease isn”t really that common, only around ten thousand cases per year occur in the United States, of those approximately twelve hundred will succumb to the illness. Compare that to the several million cases of strep throat and impetigo that occur annually in the U.S. and you will see just how uncommon it is. In recent news a young girl in Georgia was unfortunate enough to contract necrotizing fasciitis while zip-lining with friends.
Fortunately, very few people who come in contact with invasive group A- streptococcal disease will develop a life threatening disease. Most people merely contract a simple throat or skin infection, and still many may have no symptoms at all. Although it is possible for healthy people to contract an invasive group A- streptococcal disease, persons with chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, chronic heart or lung disease, and those who use medications such as steroids have a much greater risk.[pel_getmldata healthy=’yes’ numrec=3]

Persons with skin lesions such as cuts, scrapes, chicken pox, or surgical wounds have a higher risk. Also elderly persons and adults with a history of alcohol abuse or intravenous drug use have a higher risk for disease.
Treatment for necrotizing fasciitis may include some or all of the following:
  • ” “Surgery that removes infected tissue and fluids to stop the spread of infection.
  • Medicines (antibiotics and intravenous immunoglobulin) to kill the bacteria causing the infection.
  • Procedures to treat complications such as shock, respiratory problems, and organ failure.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which can help prevent tissue death and promote healing.”   WebMD
Early signs and symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis may include; severe pain and swelling, fever, and redness at the wound site. Early signs and symptoms of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome may include; fever, sudden onset of severe pain, usually in the arm or leg, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, confusion, and in about 10% of cases persons will develop a rash over large portions of their body. If you or a loved one displays any of these symptoms after a suspect exposure to strep, seek medical attention immediately.

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