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In some regions of the country, there is an increase in cases of strep throat among children

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In some regions of the country, there is an increase in cases of strep throat among children, raising concerns that the shortage of antibiotics for treating this condition may worsen as the country approaches winter.

An unprecedented number of healthy adults and children are presenting at the emergency department of the Henry Ford Fairlane Medical Center in Dearborn, Michigan, with streptococcus infections, according to Dr. Jennifer Stevenson, head of the emergency department.

"I've been practicing emergency medicine for 25 years, and I haven't seen pharyngitis (sore throat) this often in the last six or eight months," Stevenson said.

In fact, since March, streptococcus has become the second most common diagnosis in Stevenson's emergency department after chest pain. Many of the patients also had COVID-19.

Bacterial infections characterized by throat pain, throat irritation, and high fever have also been on the rise in some parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States.

"We are absolutely seeing a significant increase in strep throat cases that began in the summer," said Dr. Thomas Lacy, head of primary care for children at Nemours. Nemours includes children's hospitals and dozens of pediatricians in Delaware, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

Why is strep throat dangerous now? Cases of invasive streptococcus A, a bacterial type that also causes scarlet fever and impetigo, have been diagnosed more frequently over the past decade. However, this common form of the disease, which is currently affecting children in hospitals, according to Stevenson and Lacy.

It is unclear why streptococcus is actively returning this year, although the COVID-19 pandemic did disrupt the typical pattern of seasonal illnesses like RSV and the flu.

Lacy said his teams in Delaware and Pennsylvania have noticed a 300-400% increase in strep throat cases since the start of this school year compared to the previous year. In Florida, the number of streptococcus cases is more than twice as high at this time compared to last year.

"Strep is definitely making a comeback," Lacy said.

Epic Research, which tracks electronic medical records across the country, has observed a sustained increase in pharyngitis cases since August, especially among children aged 4 to 12. This includes diagnoses made in emergency departments and urgent care facilities as well as in pediatricians' offices.

Fortunately, streptococcus outbreaks are not occurring everywhere. In some of the largest medical centers in the country, including hospitals in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Seattle, there is no noticeable increase in strep throat cases, as reported by NBC News.

Doctors are typically not required to report cases of strep throat to local or state health departments, as they would with other diseases such as COVID-19 or measles, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 5 million outpatient visits are needed annually for non-invasive streptococcus A.

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MENTAL HEALTH Psychedelic Effects, Such as Magic Mushrooms, Can Last for Several Days or Weeks, New Research Shows According to Epic's data, after an unusually high surge in streptococcus cases last year, the current streptococcus throat infection rate seems to be returning to pre-pandemic levels.

That's how Dr. Victoria Valencia, interim director of Tulane University's Student Health Center in New Orleans, feels. Valencia said her team noticed an increase in streptococcus cases on campus immediately after the start of the fall semester.

"Oddly enough, we are seeing the same numbers as in 2019 before the pandemic," Valencia said. "I don't feel inundated."

What are the symptoms of strep throat? According to Stevenson and Valencia, most children with a positive strep test experience:

  • Sore throat.
  • Severe fatigue.
  • Fever, which can rise to 103 degrees Fahrenheit.

Children aged 12 and under may also experience:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Inflammation of the lymph nodes in the intestine, causing pain in young children.
  • Tonsils can swell so much that they trigger vomiting reflexes in children.

Sometimes untreated streptococcal infections can lead to complications, such as kidney disease.