Invasive group A strep infections in Michigan: What you need to know

There aren’t any cases here right now, but that could change.
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 5:45 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Doctors in Mid-Michigan are offering health and safety advice as west Michigan doctors see an uptick in invasive group A strep infections.

There aren’t any cases in Mid-Michigan currently, but that could change.

Group A strep infections are rare but can cause serious complications, even death. Strep A is a little different from the standard strep throat infection – it happens when the bacteria travels to other parts of your body, which can cause serious damage. Doctors in Mid-Michigan wants more people to be aware.

“What’s happening is that they’re getting viral infections. And so once the body’s been invaded by a virus, the body is changed for a moment,” said Dr. John Brooks, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at McLaren Health. “The immune system is doing its thing and then after the viral infection’s getting better, then bacterial infections can then now walk in because you’re weakened.”

Dr. Brooks said adults with compromised health can also get an invasive group A strep infection.

Dominique Harris currently has a standard strep throat infection. He said this is probably the worst sickness he’s had in a while.

“About three days ago I woke up and my throat was slightly sore – I thought maybe it was from sleeping with my mouth open or something,” Harris said. “But it persistently got worse over the past two days. It felt like razors cutting my neck and I couldn’t eat or drink at all.”

“So in children that are getting viral infections such as RSV, COVID, influenza – after the recovering from that, then what we’re seeing is that some of them are getting group A strep. Now group A strep is a relatively common bacteria when you think about that because it causes strep throat,” said Dr. Brooks.

Harris said he had to miss work because of his strep throat infection and said he can’t imagine what kids go through when they get group A strep.

“Not being able to eat is the hardest part about it. Anything is hard to swallow,” said Harris. “If you do swallow it at all, it almost feels like a choking.”

Over at McLaren Health, they’re working with the Michigan Department of Community Health to monitor specimens to see if anything different is going on with those strains compared to standard strep infection strains.

“Really the bottom line is, is that if you have a child that has had RSV, influenza, or COVID and now has a really sore throat afterwards, it’s probably pretty prudent to get them further care to make sure they don’t have strep throat,” said Dr. Brooks. “Invasive group A strep infections can cause tissue to degrade and other issues like toxic shock.”

McLaren Health said the best way to make sure your family is safe from strep infections is to get vaccinated against COVID and influenza.

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