After 5 pediatric deaths, Illinois’ top doctor issues a warning about strep throat.

The state’s top doctor is warning about strep throat cases in children.

Illinois health officials issued a warning about an increase in dangerous strep throat cases, citing at least five pediatric deaths in the state.

The invasive Group-A strep throat is the focus of the warning.

Severe strep complications occur when the bacteria migrate to other parts of the body and become invasive.

“Germs are being found in parts of the body where you don’t usually see them. They’ll be found in the bloodstream, the lungs or even in the joints,” said Dr. Michael Cappello, with Advocate Children’s Hospital

Dr. Cappello, vice-chairman of Advocate Children’s Hospital, stated that the hospital has seen patients with invasive Group-A strep, with some requiring intensive care.

All, however, were successfully treated.

The cause of the increase in pediatric cases is unknown.

“With the increase in viral infections in the respiratory surge in the winter, that presence of the virus — if you get the Group A virus on top of that, the virus is working on immune system, it could be breaking it down a little bit,” Dr. Cappello said.

Although Group-A strep bacteria can cause common and generally mild illnesses, doctors advise parents to contact their health providers if their children develop severe symptoms such as scarlet fever.

“It’s when you get a rash that almost makes you look like sunburn,” said Dr. Arti Barnes, with IDPH. “Diffused red rash of the body and then the skin on the fingertips might start peeling off.”

To avoid group A strep infections, doctors advise covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and ensuring that everyone in the house is up to date on flu, COVID, and chickenpox vaccines.

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