The following is a news release from the CDPHE
STATEWIDE (Dec. 15, 2022) — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is monitoring an increase in pediatric hospitalizations caused by group A strep. Group A strep is a bacteria that can cause many different infections. As the Department has been following recent increases in other illnesses , CDPHE is working with hospital partners in a coordinating role to ensure resources are available for those who need them.
There have been 11 reported cases of invasive group A strep in children since Nov. 1, 2022, in the Denver metro area where invasive group A strep is a reportable condition through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infections Program. Recent cases range in age from 10 months to 6 years, but anyone of any age can get group A strep. CDPHE is aware of two deaths among these cases. Both were young children who were not yet school aged. The official cause of death has not been finalized by a coroner or medical examiner. The last reported death in a pediatric patient with group A strep in Colorado was in 2018.
Group A strep commonly causes sore throat, a mild and common condition that can be easily treated. While rare, invasive group A strep infections are severe and cause diseases like pneumonia, sepsis, toxic shock syndrome, and a serious skin and tissue infection called necrotizing fasciitis. An invasive infection occurs when bacteria like group A strep move beyond the throat or skin, where they are likely to cause mild infection, and enter the bloodstream, lungs, fluid in the spinal cord, or other places inside the body they would not typically live.
“While they remain rare, CDPHE is seeing invasive group A strep infections in Colorado that cause severe illness,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, CDPHE. “There is no vaccine for group A strep, but keeping up to date on vaccines for COVID-19, flu, and chickenpox can help protect your child from developing complications from a group A strep infection. Stay home when you are sick and practice good hand hygiene — regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and avoid touching your face. Call your child’s doctor if they are experiencing new or worsening symptoms of an illness.”
In addition to sore throat, symptoms of group A strep may include fever and chills, or new rashes, skin bumps, or red patches of skin that may be painful. Some severe group A strep infections may occur as a complication of common respiratory infections like RSV, flu, or COVID-19. People should call their child’s health care provider immediately if they develop new or worsening symptoms during their respiratory infection. Early treatment is critical to keeping initial group A strep infections mild and from progressing to more serious illnesses it can cause.
CDPHE is also investigating an increase in reports of other severe or invasive bacterial infections among children, including those due to Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. Cases of Invasive Pneumococcal Disease (IPD), a serious infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, have also increased in Colorado since Nov. 1. IPD may also be a complication or secondary infection following common respiratory viral infections such as COVID-19, flu, or RSV. There are vaccines for the prevention of IPD that are recommended for both children and adults, and CDPHE encourages Coloradans to ensure they and their children remain up to date on all recommended vaccinations.