Understanding Group A Strep Infections: A Guide for Parents 


A boy sticking out his tongue testing for strep thraot.What is Group A Strep? 

Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a type of bacteria responsible for various illnesses in children, ranging from mild to severe. Strep throat, which is a significant contributor to sore throats in kids, is the most common strep infection. Fortunately, diagnosing strep throat is straightforward, with a quick swab test available at your doctor’s office. TSS, or toxic shock syndrome from strep, is rare but possible.

Current Trends and Concerns 

It’s a challenging period for strep infections. In 2023, there have been 145 reported cases of STSS, significantly higher than the 49 cases reported by the same time in both 2022 and 2021. To provide some context, the year-to-date number in 2019 was 196 cases. This indicates that while there is a noticeable increase compared to the pandemic years, the current trend is not unusually high relative to pre-pandemic levels. 

Repeated Infections: What Parents Should Know 

While repeated strep infections can occur, they are relatively uncommon. Unlike some viral infections, strep does not typically grant long-term immunity after an initial infection. Repeated infections might happen in immunocompromised children or situations with a continuous source of strep bacteria, such as an asymptomatic carrier in close contact.

To minimize the risk of repeated infections: 

  • Encourage frequent hand washing. 
  • Discourage nose-picking. (many germs live in the nose!) 
  • Treat infections promptly with antibiotics. 
  • Be aware of strep symptoms and seek testing when necessary. 

Key Points for Parents 

  1. Symptoms of Strep: Strep throat can present with various symptoms such as headache, stomachache, sore throat, fever, and a rough rash. It’s important to note these signs and seek medical attention if they appear.   
  2. Incubation Period: The incubation period for strep can be up to two weeks. If anyone in your family shows symptoms within two weeks of your child’s infection, they should be tested for strep. 
  3. Age Factor: Strep infections are rare in children under three years old. 
  4. Toothbrush Hygiene: Change your child’s toothbrush 24 hours after starting antibiotics to prevent re-infection. 
  5. School Attendance: Children can return to school just 12 hours after starting antibiotics, providing quick relief for parents managing their child’s illness. 

By staying informed and taking preventive measures, parents can better manage and reduce the impact of strep infections on their children. 

Dr. Nikki GormanDr. Nikki Gorman is the owner and pediatrician at Village Pediatrics in Westport, CT. She loves spreading medical information and helping parents and children make informed decisions about their health and wellness. If you see her out, she likes hugs!


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