Invasive Group A streptococcus cases rising in Canada

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Strep A can be carried in the throat and not have a lot of symptoms, but when you have a cold, that allows the strep to invade. Photo: Pexels


(Megan DeLaire/ CTV News) — Countries across the globe are reporting a sustained spike in the number of invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS) infections at a time when the season for strep infections should be winding down, and Canada is among them.

iGAS is a potentially life-threatening infection involving the normally harmless Group A streptococcal bacteria (GAS). While GAS infection often causes mild illnesses such as tonsillitis, strep throat, scarlet fever and a skin infection called cellulitis, iGAS can cause severe illness and, in rare cases, death within days.

Ontario and Quebec have reported higher iGAS infection rates during the 2022-2023 fall and winter strep season compared to pre-pandemic levels, and in Quebec, the infections have led to the deaths of several children and seniors.

Ontario reported 538 cases between October 2022 and February 2023, and Dr. David Fisman, a physician epidemiologist and professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto, says some of those cases have been especially severe. (…)

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