Strep throat is one of many ailments to watch for during ‘immunological catch-up’, says Utah doctorThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Like many other illnesses, strep throat is more common this year than it has been in the past few years, according to Dr. Timothy C. Larsen, a pediatrician at Intermountain Redrock Pediatrics. He encouraged hand washing and not sharing dishes when children returned to school. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Like many other illnesses, strep throat is more common this year than it has been in the past few years, according to Dr. Timothy K. Larsen, a pediatrician at Intermountain Redrock Pediatrics.
And he said when school starts back up in January, the number of cases could rise a bit more, something that is typical at the start of the school year.
Strep throat is spread by direct contact with saliva, so luckily the spread can be prevented. Larsen suggested that people not share utensils, cups or straws and wash their hands before eating.
Larsen said strep throat is something people should get over and treat with antibiotics. He suggested taking children with strep symptoms to a clinic within a day or two. Strep can lead to complications, including rheumatic heart disease and kidney problems, but antibiotics can prevent these.
He said strep comes on quickly, usually with a sore throat and fever starting at the same time and sometimes with swollen lymph nodes and sore tonsils or white spots on the tonsils. A runny nose, congestion, or cough are not typical of strep.
Intermountain Healthcare’s GernWatch data, which tracks disease rates, shows limited data from their entire system of care, but Larsen said it shows rates that are slightly higher than the past few years. He also sees many of the people who come to the clinic for a same-day check-up diagnosed with strep throat.
He said that overall, St. George’s Clinic has been very busy as flu cases continue to rise and are much higher than in the last five years. Larsen said cases of respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, are beginning to decline. He also said he’s seen multiple cases of COVID-19 that initially looked like strep throat.
Larsen said the increase in multiple illnesses this year may be due to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 over the past few years, which have resulted in somewhat weaker immunity.
“These things had an effect, they helped. Now we see the downside … now that we’re mixing, which is as it should be,” Larsen said.
He said it’s like we’re playing “immunological catch-up,” but with strep throat, it doesn’t seem like the cases are worse, even though they’re more common.
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