Virginia Department of Health sees an increased number of strep throat cases this year

New symptoms of strep throat are also making it harder for doctors to diagnose

The Virginia Department of Health is sending out a warning to parents about an increased number of strep throat cases this year.

Lewis Gale Doctor, Glenn Dobbs said that in the past couple of months, they have seen more visits for strep throat. He said he is also hearing about an increased number of children missing school in the community because of this illness.

In the last couple of years because of COVID, Dobbs said there has been a decrease in strep throat and other viruses. This is because people were wearing masks and taking other health precautions. However, this year he said it seems like we are getting back to those pre-pandemic levels or even higher.

“Strep is spread through droplets, direct contact, coughing, and sneezing,” Dobbs said. “With small children touching objects they’ve had in their hands and their mouth. So during the pandemic, we kept people isolated and masks on. Now we are back together and the masks are off, so you are getting more exposure and your immune system hasn’t seen this.”

He said that when viral respiratory infections like RSV and flu go up, so do your chances of getting sick. This is because your immune system is weakened.

Dobbs said the best way to protect yourself and your family is by practicing healthy habits, like washing your hands. He also recommended having a good relationship with your pediatrician.

New symptoms of strep throat are also making it harder for doctors to diagnose. Instead of a red, sore throat and a fever, a lot of children are showing symptoms of congestion, runny nose, and cough.

Dobbs said sometimes children present with a rash. Usually, the rash is red and starts on the face or neck, then spreads. If you would feel it, it would feel like sandpaper. Other unique symptoms he is seeing are a bad headache or an upset stomach.

“Now you are even seeing some of these viral illnesses on top and you are seeing kids complaining of runny nose, conjunctivitis of the eyes, they are red and itchy, which typically doesn’t come with strep throat,” said Dobbs.

The CDC recently warned about something called invasive strep. This isn’t new but can bring more intense symptoms.

If you notice something is not right with your child, Dobbs said to reach out to your pediatrician. The quicker you can get your child treated, the better.

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