KXAN Austin

Strep A infections spike across Texas; how to protect yourself

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Despite several versions of strep infections, there’s one rare in particular that’s rising nationwide and in the state of Texas.

“If you’ve ever heard of toxic shock syndrome, that’s one most people are familiar with. Sometimes, that’s just an overgrowth of streptococcal bacteria that people can tend to relate to because it’s the warning, and it’s so few and far between, it’s so rare and a true rarity, but we have to be prepared for those things,” City of Wichita Falls Interim Health Director Amy Fagan said.

Strep A is a disease that can cause muscle pain, extreme fevers, swelling, and can start to grow and go beyond areas throughout the entire body.

“When it goes outside the throat, or when it goes to abnormal growth within the skin, it becomes invasive because your body is trying to fight it off, but is unable to, or you’re not treated in time, and it just becomes an overgrowth, if you will, and that’s when it comes invasive or too much in the case of toxic shock syndrome. It’s just about the gathering of bacteria in places where they normally aren’t,” Fagan said.

Because strep can spread between children in crowded spaces, invasive streptococcal infections are also most common among children and the elderly.

“They are so common in school-age children, and that’s because it’s respiratory, and you know, our kids are in close contact, and they are often not good hand washers. So, it tends to be in children between the ages of five and 18. Those who are over the age of 65, those who are immune-compromised, there is always an increased risk of developing more disease or a more consequential disease because their body isn’t able to fight off bacteria or viruses, and so it’s always in these age categories or in those chronic illness categories,” Fagan said.

Fagan’s advice to protect yourself is wash your hands and use band-aids. Even the slightest open wound is a potential outlet for this invasive disease to enter and infect your entire body.

Click here to learn more about symptoms and other information on Strep A.