Pediatric Strep Throat Rising: ‘Not Seen Strep Throat As Frequently.’

Strep throat rising in some areas of the country

In some areas of the United States, strep throat is making a concerning resurgence, particularly among children. This resurgence has raised concerns because of the shortage of antibiotics that can effectively treat the condition. The shortage of these antibiotics is exacerbating the issue, and the situation may worsen as the nation enters the winter season (Source: NBC News).

At Henry Ford Medical Center — Fairlane in Dearborn, Michigan, a notable increase in otherwise healthy adults and children seeking treatment for strep throat has been observed. Dr. Jennifer Stevenson, the head of the emergency department, stated that in her 25 years of practicing emergency medicine, she has never encountered strep throat as frequently as she has in the past six to eight months. 

In recent months, strep has become the second most common diagnosis in her emergency department, following chest pain, with many patients having concurrent Covid infections.

This increase in strep cases has not been limited to Michigan. It has been on the rise for months in several other regions, including parts of the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast. Dr. Thomas Lacy, the division chief for Nemours Children’s Primary Care, noted that they have observed a significant rise in strep cases across Delaware, Florida, and Pennsylvania. 

Some areas reported a 300% to 400% increase in strep throat since the beginning of the school year compared to the previous year. Florida, in particular, has more than double the number of strep cases compared to the same time last year.

The exact reasons behind this resurgence remain unclear, although it’s suggested that disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic to the typical patterns of seasonal illnesses might play a role. 

Data from Epic Research, which tracks electronic health records, has indicated a steady increase in strep throat cases, especially among children aged 4 to 12, since the beginning of August. This includes diagnoses made at urgent care facilities, emergency departments, and pediatricians’ offices.

Strep throat diagnoses are typically not mandated to be reported to local or state health departments like other infectious diseases, such as Covid or measles. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 5 million outpatient visits occur each year due to noninvasive group A strep.

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