Recently in UK, a disease called invasive Group A streptococcus, or iGAS, has been floating around, a form of bacterial infection. In fatal cases, the infection can even threaten the lives of its victims.

The disease has been prevalent in the UK and has taken 9 lives of kids under 10 since September. This Bacterial disease is a fatal form of Strep A infection. The infection has been prevalent since the beginning of the year.

As per UK Health Security, disease is caused by a bacterium usually present in the human throat and skin and is usually harmless. However, the disease can turn fatal in a few cases, as prominent this year.

The disease is highly contagious and spreads via common modes such as sneezing, coughing and shaking hands.

Common symptoms of the infection are:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Body ache and
  • Rashes

A person showing no symptoms might also contain the infection.

How to protect against the infection:

Although causalities have been witnessed among young children under 10, infection could be contagious to anyone. According to few reports, the infection has been spreading more rapidly due to the low immunity of people due to COVID-19.

  • The first and foremost step to prevent the infection would be to eat immunity-boosting foods and exercise.
  • Maintain good hygiene and cover mouth and nose while sneezing.
  • Look for any signs of fatigue and respiratory discomfort in the body.
  • Contact your nearest health services if you feel the condition of you/your loved ones is getting worse.

Why does invasive group A streptococcal disease occur?

Invasive group A streptococcal infection occurs when the bacteria overcome the defence system of an infected person. This can happen if a person has a wound or other break in the skin that allows bacteria to get into the tissue. Health conditions that lower a person's resistance to infection make the invasive disease more likely. In addition, certain types of GAS are more likely to cause severe disease than others. The reason some strains cause more severe disease is not entirely clear but may involve the production of substances (toxins) that cause shock and organ damage and enzymes that cause tissue destruction.

What groups of people are most at risk from invasive group A streptococcal disease?

Some people exposed to an acute strain of GAS will develop the invasive GAS disease; Most will have regular throat or skin infections, and some may not have any symptoms. Although healthy people can get invasive GAS disease, people with chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and kidney dialysis, and those who use drugs such as steroids, are at higher risk. In addition, wounds in the skin, such as cuts, surgical wounds, or chickenpox, can allow bacteria to enter the body.

Can invasive group A streptococcal disease be treated?

Group A streptococcus bacteria are treatable with common, low-cost antibiotics. Penicillin is the preferred treatment for both mild and severe diseases. For penicillin-allergic patients with mild disease, erythromycin may be used, although occasional resistance has been observed. Clindamycin may be used to treat penicillin-allergic patients with more severe disease and may be added to treatment in cases of necrotizing fasciitis or STSS. Some other antibiotics are also effective. In addition to antibiotics, supportive care in an intensive care unit and sometimes surgery are necessary for these diseases. Early treatment can reduce the risk of death, although, unfortunately, even proper treatment does not prevent death in every case.

Should contacts of persons with invasive group A streptococcal disease be tested and treated?

The risk of secondary cases of invasive GAS disease in persons with casual contact with a case is very low. However, there are occasional reports of close contacts, such as family members developing severe diseases. Generally, it is unnecessary for all persons exposed to someone with an invasive group A streptococcal infection to be tested or receive preventive antibiotics. If household contacts are in good health, they should be observed for symptoms of GAS infection, but they will not need preventive antibiotics. However, those at high risk of invasive disease if infected (for example, individuals with diabetes, cancer, chronic heart disease, or alcoholism) should discuss the benefit of preventive antibiotics with their healthcare provider.

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