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Cases of scarlet fever are on the rise. This may be related to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Outside the window summer – infections should be significantly less, and it is completely the other way around. At least when it comes to scarlet fever. According to experts, there are as many as seven times more cases of this disease than a year ago at the same time. This may be related to our immunity being put to the test by COVID-19.

Five-year-old Iga is in the hospital with scarlet fever. She had chicken pox before. It’s better now, but it was really bad. – There has been an infection with a streptococcus bacteria, sepsis has already appeared. We are fighting until now – says Grzegorz Siudym, Iga’s father. Iga is one of over 26,000 children who suffered from scarlet fever in the last six months. That’s a huge number.

In the first half of 2022, only less than 4,000 people fell ill with scarlet fever. Mostly children are affected and these are severe courses. – At the moment in the ward we have a boy after sepsis caused by pyogenic streptococcus. He was in the ICU for a week. Actually, from a boy who actively practiced sports and played football, he now has a huge problem, says Dr. Aneta Górska-Kot, Professor J. Bogdanowicz Children’s Hospital in Warsaw.

Effects of the pandemic

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– There were not so many invasive streptococcal infections. Streptococcus was very rarely the cause of our patient’s serious condition. It’s completely different right now. Well, unfortunately, we have also had deaths of children due to invasive streptococcal infections – admits Dr. Ewelina Gowin from the Specialist Mother and Child Health Care Team in Poznań. The main culprit is pyogenic streptococcus. It attacks not only more strongly than in the three previous pandemic years, but also more virulently than before the pandemic. 2023 is a record year in this respect.

Unfortunately, we are still feeling the effects of the pandemic. When SARS-CoV-2 withdrew a bit, we were attacked by other previously known viruses and bacteria. – After the pandemic, when the sanitary regime was abolished, we observed a flood of viral infections, and these bacterial infections, including streptococcal, are a complication of viral infections, so there were many more of them – explains Dr. Lidia Stopyra, head of the Infectious Diseases and Pediatrics Department of the Stefan Żeromski in Krakow.

Scarlet fever, smallpox and whooping cough. Doctors are alarming about a worrying outbreak of infectious diseasesMarta Balukiewicz | Facts in the afternoon TVN24

Greater detection

The reasons for the outbreak of scarlet fever can also be different. – These two years of isolation resulted in the creation of a large group of people who had no contact with streptococcus – explains Dr. Ewelina Gowin. Epidemiologists are reporting a huge increase in the incidence of scarlet fever in almost all of Europe. There may be relatively more of them in Poland also for another reason: the detection of this type of infection has improved thanks to strep tests – recently free of charge. – The availability and use of these rapid tests has increased the number of streptococcal pharyngitis diagnoses in available reports – says Dr. Mateusz Szmidt, family medicine doctor, “Family Clinic” in Bialystok. Scarlet fever mainly affects children under the age of fourteen.

Main photo source: TVN facts



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