Strep Throat Signs to Look For Kids GettyImages 1207513987

The CDC is investigating cases of invasive strep in children. Here are the signs and symptoms parents need to know about

“While the overall number of cases has remained relatively low and iGAS infections remain rare in children, CDC is investigating these reports,” the advisory law.

Group A strep (streptococcus) is a bacteria that can cause several infections, including strep throat which affects the throat and tonsils and is most common between the ages of 5 and 15, although adults can also be infected.

Invasive strep A occurs when the infection spreads to other parts of the body such as the bloodstream. It can cause serious issues like cellulitea bacterial skin infection and toxic shock syndrome, which can cause low blood pressure and organ failure.

While experts don’t know the specific reason for the increase in invasive strep cases, says Dr. Glenn Fennelly, professor and chair of pediatrics at Texas Tech Physicians in El Paso Fortune. It could be because new, more invasive strains of Strep A have been introduced into some communities and can spread easily as many pandemic safety measures have been lifted.

In some cases, infections have been reported in areas that have increased cases of COVID-19, RSV and influenza, the CDC says in their health advisory.

“Infectious diseases come in waves,” says Dr. David Hill, hospital pediatrician for Goldsboro Pediatrics in North Carolina Fortune. “I don’t find this particularly surprising or alarming, but it’s certainly something parents should be aware of.”

What are the symptoms of strep throat and invasive strep A?

Streptococcus presents with the following symptoms, according to the CDC:

Sore throat which can come on suddenly Pain after swallowing Enlarged lymph nodes in the front of the neck Small red spots on the roof of the mouth Fever Red swollen tonsils

It’s not common to have a runny nose, congestion, or cough when you’re infected with strep throat. If you have a sore throat and fever, you are more likely to have a sore throat than if you have a sore throat with a cough or congestion.

These symptoms may indicate an invasive strep A infection:

Fever Changes in behavior Feeling weak Muscle aches and swelling Vomiting A rash

How do you treat a sore throat?

An official test in a doctor’s office or urgent care is the best way to know if treatment for strep is warranted.

Antibiotics are used to treat sore throats. When antibiotics are prescribed, Hill says it’s important to take the full course even if symptoms go away to prevent rheumatic fever, a serious potential outcome of untreated sore throat in children. Oral amoxicillin, the most commonly used antibiotic for sore throats, is facing a shortage that is “expected to last several months,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Oral amoxicillin is somewhat considered a first-line, more palatable drug—it’s absorbed well,” says Fennelly. “In the absence of such availability, doctors have resorted to using oral or injectable penicillin or an antibiotic called cephalexin.”

Strep can be transmitted through saliva, so experts say to monitor children’s habits and avoid openly sharing drinks, food or cutlery, and encourage handwashing. It can also be spread through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes.

Using anecdotal evidence, many cases of invasive strep A develop after a child becomes infected with the flu, Fennelly says, so continuing to get the flu shot is an important measure.