What is scarlet fever, this disease caused by streptococcus A that affects children
Health

What is scarlet fever, this disease caused by streptococcus A that affects children

Typical scarlet fever is characterized by an invasive phase that begins suddenly with high fever, poor general condition, vomiting, and sometimes abdominal and joint pain.
Typical scarlet fever is characterized by an invasive phase that begins suddenly with high fever, poor general condition, vomiting, and sometimes abdominal and joint pain. (© uly.uv / Adobestock)

For several weeks, the babies were contracting scarlet fever, particularly in schools, in France. these Invasive group A streptococcal infection It occurred mainly in certain regions: Occitania, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, New Aquitaine, but not only. Cases have also been reported in Ile-de-France or even in Normandy and have not yet ended.

And this, mainly in children under the age of ten. The French public health authority issued a warning this week, in the face of serious cases and deaths during the past two weeks. Should we panic? news.fr make a point.

What is its relationship to streptococcus?

“What you need to know is that scarlet fever is benign, but it’s not a virus, it’s a bacteria,” he explains in news.fr Pediatrician and infectious disease specialist Robert Cohen. “The disease comes from group A streptococcus, or a group A streptococcus group, which is capable of secreting the toxins that cause scarlet fever,” he explains.

“Infections with Streptococcus A (Streptococcus pyogenes) are frequent,” recalls, for its part, the Pasteur Institute. These bacteria are part of the commensal flora (editor’s note: a complex group of bacteria, protozoa, viruses and fungi that reside beneath the superficial layer of the skin, skin microbiota, and over much of the mucous membranes) and cause symptoms only under certain conditions (opportunistic pathogen) or in people at risk.

Streptococcus A is responsible for many benign infections (angina and impetigo) but can also be responsible for sometimes fatal invasive infections (toxic shock syndrome, necrotizing fasciitis)”, confirms the foundation devoted to the study of biology, microorganisms, diseases and vaccines.

Who can get infected?

Scarlet fever causes fever, sore throat, and rash. Typical scarlet fever is characterized by an invasive phase that begins suddenly with high fever, poor general condition, vomiting, and sometimes abdominal and joint pain. The tongue can be white, then red, raspberry color.

When group A hemolytic streptococci enter the body, these bacteria secrete substances that are toxic to the body, causing these symptoms.

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Young children are often immune to scarlet fever. They are protected by antibodies passed on from their mothers during pregnancy, via the placenta. Thus, scarlet fever is rare in children under the age of two.

Scarlet fever mainly affects children from 5 to 10 years of age during the winter season, causing small epidemics that spread especially in schools, but it is not dangerous at all, if it is watched and caught early.

Dr. Robert CohenPediatrician and infectious disease doctor

What do you do if your child has symptoms of scarlet fever?

From the first symptoms, the actions to take is to achieve a ‘nodal test’, which is a quick diagnostic test that can be done by a doctor or in a pharmacy. Obviously, if your child’s school has communicated about a condition, the doctor will make the diagnosis more quickly. The idea is that When faced with angina, only antibiotics are prescribed for group A angina, ”the doctor explains.

Curative treatment should begin as soon as possible. The recommended antibiotic treatment is usually amoxicillin for six days. But the general condition of the child usually improves within 24 to 48 hours.

How is scarlet fever transmitted?

The bacteria responsible for scarlet fever are found in nasal and oropharyngeal secretions. Thus contamination occurs through the air (coughing, sneezing, and droplets while speaking), by holding hands contaminated with the secretions of a sick person, in their mouth or nose, or, in rare cases, indirectly, by touching objects recently contaminated with the secretions.

Patients with scarlet fever also become contagious once the bacteria are established in the pharynx, even before symptoms appear. This explains why epidemics develop despite the isolation of patients. The incubation period is usually one to four days, but may be longer. Duration of infection is 48 hours after starting treatment with effective antibiotics, but can last two to three weeks in the absence of (antibiotic) treatment.

Should we be concerned about this staph infection?

In recent weeks, the number of children infected with streptococcus A has increased significantly. No fewer than eight children have been admitted to intensive care in different regions over the past 15 days, and two children have already died. But if health authorities encourage doctors to perform saliva tests in all children who show symptoms of angina, “there’s nothing to worry about,” insists Dr. Cohen.

“There have been serious outbreaks of scarlet fever, but today, thanks to antibiotics, if taken quickly, you don’t have to worry about the disease. The only cases that can really cause a problem are in children whose toxin secretion can be stronger. But it is really rare and exceptional.” “.

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