Just when it seemed as though things might finally be going back to pre-pandemic times due to a
significant decrease in the number of reported cases, another potentially lethal ‘villain’ has taken
centre stage. That would be the invasive Group A Streptococcus, commonly referred to as iGAS.
Without causing undue concern, iGAS is, to quote the WHO, rare in comparison to GAS which
typically causes mild illnesses such as strep throat and laryngitis.
Unfortunately, the increase in iGAS should, at the very least, put parents, foster parents, teachers
and anyone who deals with children on alert. That said, how can we protect our children and foster
children during what is reported to be quite an increase in cases throughout the European continent
as well as the UK? Here is some of what we know.
Dissemination of Important Information
Whenever an outbreak such as GAS occurs in the UK, the first people to be apprised are obviously
those in charge of the public welfare. This would obviously be doctors, hospitals, schools and
agencies that deal with children, both independent and public. Since they see a huge number of
children regularly, they would be the ones to take precautions themselves and to advise parents
how best to protect their children. They have been informed of the importance of managing contacts once iGAS has been reported within their juvenile population. For example, let’s look at Nottingham, where two obvious public agencies tasked with looking after the wellbeing of children would be Nottingham City Children’s Social Care Service and Council Care if the children are remanded to foster care by the court. There are also independent foster care services such as Fostering People that place children with carers as well. These will all be informed of any outbreaks so that they can track them with kids in their charge as would schools and pediatricians. The goal is to help them understand the level of concern as well as how to handle reported cases within their youth population.
GAS Is a Bacterial Infection
Bear in mind how Covid-19 caught the world off-guard and as a result, the UK’s ability to disseminate
important health concerns has improved dramatically. Even so, the one ray of hope in all this, even
though there is significant concern that the spread of this contagions is increasing would be that GAS
is bacterial and not viral.
This means that antibiotics are effective in fighting the illness whereas Covid-19 was a virus and not
at all responsive to antibiotics or antivirals. With this information in hand, it is then possible to better
understand how to mitigate its spread. However, due to the fact that the invasive form of this
bacteria can have life-threatening consequences, greater care should be given to sanitise and
sterilise surfaces to a greater extent.
The Importance of Staying Informed
This may be one of the more fortunate outcomes of the recent pandemic. While numbers surged
around the globe, people stayed glued to news sources on television, radio and the internet. Having
been through the most trying health concern of our lifetime, we learned the importance of following
the spread. Even though GAS and iGAS are not expected to have nearly the numbers we saw with
the pandemic, parents, foster parents, teachers and anyone working with kids now understand just
how important it is to stay informed.
The best source of information would most likely come from the UK Health Security Agency,
formerly Public Health England. Any guidance from them would be as current as available and the
best way to protect our children from yet another potential epidemic.