Strep A outbreak – expert warns knee-jerk antibiotic treatments may do more harm than good
“Last week, Health Minister Lord Markham stated in the House of Lords, ‘We have given instructions to doctors that, where necessary, they should be proactively prescribing penicillin [an antibiotic] as the best line of defence’,” said Dr Fivelman. “However laudable the Minister’s intentions, using antibiotics such as penicillin as a prophylactic – that is, as a precautionary measure rather than to treat a diagnosed case – is mistaken,” he said. Dr Fivelman elaborated on his position: “It’s effectively a nuclear option, a decision of final resort.
“Taking antibiotics too often can change bacteria so much that the antibiotics stop working against them.
“This is called bacterial resistance or antibiotic resistance. Some bacteria are now resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics available.”
Dr Fivelman quoted the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
He said: “The CDC calls this ‘one of the world’s most pressing public health problems’. Others have stated this is now such a global problem that it could be described as a ‘silent pandemic’.”
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There have been numerous tragic deaths because of the invasive Group-A streptococcal infection (iGAS).
However, Dr Fivelman reminds people that “in most cases, Strep A is mild, often causing little more than a sore throat”.
He added: “In fact, lots of people have it without even knowing and come to no harm.”
While there has been a surge in cases of Strep A, Dr Fivelman believes this is the result of Covid restrictions no longer being in place.
As more people are mixing nowadays, more infections can be transmitted to other people.
Early signs of a Strep A infection:
- A high temperature
- Swollen glands
- Sore throat
- A rash, often on the stomach
- Muscle aches
- Flushed cheeks
- A swollen tongue.
Strep A cases can also lead to Scarlet fever, which can lead to:
- A rough skin rash
- Flu-like symptoms
- A high temperature.
Possible early indicators of the invasive Group A streptococcal infection (iGAS) include:
- Fever – a temperature above 38C
- Severe muscle aches.
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“There have been 2.3 cases of iGAS per 100,000 children aged one to four, compared to an average of 0.5 before the Covid pandemic,” said Dr Fivelman.
“Testing and observation are far safer ways of controlling Strep A’s spread than indiscriminately giving antibiotics as a preventative measure,” he attested.
“Already, research indicates some patients have developed resistance to certain antibiotics, such as azithromycin and clarithromycin, that are used to treat Strep A.
“This is a particular concern for those people who are allergic to penicillin and can only take alternative antibiotics.”
Dr Fivelman added: “With widespread Strep A testing not yet easily available, a general health test might be a useful course of action for anyone concerned, to ensure they are in good health to help fight infections.
“London Medical Laboratory’s Health Profile Test provides people with a comprehensive check-up of their general health.”
This includes: vitamin D levels, diabetes (HbA1c), liver and kidney function, full blood count, bone health, iron levels, and a full cholesterol profile.
Leading testing expert Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD is the Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory.
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