A Florida Boy’s Gym Injury Turned Fatal From Strep A. Here’s What Parents Need To Know

Strep A is back on parents’ radar after an 11-year-old boy died of a bacterial infection after being injured in the gym.

Jesse Brown, a healthy fifth grader in Winter Park, Florida, was using a treadmill at a gym when he twisted his ankle. The boy was recovering but soon developed a red and purple rash on his leg, hello america reported on February 19.

He was rushed to the emergency room and admitted to intensive care, where tests revealed he had developed an invasive strep A infection. He died days after being hospitalized, his cousin told the TV news.

British health officials issued a warning last week about sustained high levels of strep A infections – in children, but also in adults.

What is strep A?

Group A strep infections usually cause mild illness such as tonsillitis, sore throat, or skin infection. But when the bacterium infects areas of the body that are usually sterile – such as the blood, deep muscle, fat and lungs – it can cause more serious invasive diseases, including necrotizing fasciitis and strep toxic shock syndrome – life-threatening bacterial infections – and diseases. such as rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, which cause the immune system to damage healthy tissue.

In mid-December, the World Health Organization warned of an increase in serious Strep A cases and deaths in many countries, including France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, according to a December 15 situation report. And the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was studying a “possible increase” in such cases among children.

Strep A season kicked off early last fall and spread of the pathogen has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the CDC said in a Feb. 2 website update. Influenza and RSV also began to spread earlier this cold and flu season, and since respiratory viruses can lead to co-infection with Strep A, the increase in the former may have led to the increase in second, according to experts.

Dr. Sandy Arnold, chief of infectious diseases at Happiness Children’s and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, said pediatric infectious disease physicians nationwide have begun to notice an increase in cases. streptococcus A this fall.

“We definitely all sat up and took notice,” she says, adding that email traffic on a mailing list was what prompted the CDC to issue a health alert to clinicians in December.

Dr. Marcos Mestre, vice president and chief medical officer of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, agrees with the CDC, saying the increase in cases over the past three years is the result of increased socialization after the pandemic restrictions.

Arnold believes more cases are being seen compared to pre-pandemic years, although she notes that “these things rise and fall on their own.”

“Is there a strain in the community that has more invasive potential than what we’re used to seeing?” she asks. “For me, I feel like there’s definitely something different going on, and it’s not just due to the pandemic.”

“Worry about what you can control”

Regarding the case of the Florida boy who died of strep A after he sprained his ankle in a gym, Arnold says it’s likely the bacteria was in his blood, either because he was a carrier, or because he contracted it in the community. – and that he infected his skeleton after his ankle injury, in a case of hematogenous osteomyelitis.

“That doesn’t mean he caught the bacteria at the gym” or from a scratch, as has been suggested in other media, Arnold says. “What he had in the gym was an injury.”

Experts like Arnold and Meste warn parents to watch for minor injuries with pain that gets worse over time, or if the child develops a rash or fever.

“These things can show up very quickly, so quickly that you don’t have time to wait and see the doctor the next day,” she says.

Cases of infectious streptococcus A are “fortunately not very common”, she adds. “It sounds a little fatalistic, but if something like this is going to happen, it will happen.”

“Worry about what you can control,” she advises parents. “We can’t control everything, unfortunately.”

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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