“Everyone is affected, of course, because older children tolerate this virus quite well – why weren’t they? she says.
When Covid-19 was unleashed across the world, many countries introduced strict containment measures to thwart transmission of the virus. Children were kept out of schools and nurseries for weeks or months. Now that they’re mixing again, doctors have noticed periodic flare-ups of other illnesses, including RSV, influenza and illnesses caused by group A strep, a bacteria also known as strep A.
Fifteen children have died in the UK since September from a strep A infection. 27 deaths among those under 18 have been recorded. However, the 2022-23 season is not over yet.
Epidemiologists continue to research whether Covid-19 lockdowns increased the likelihood of outbreaks of other illnesses, given that respiratory infections were more or less stopped in their tracks in the first year or so of the pandemic. It’s also possible that catching Covid-19 has increased the children’s susceptibility to other illnesses by harming their immune systems in some way – although doctors say this is unlikely, as there is no evidence of such an effect. But what exactly is going on?
For weeks, in routine conference calls with medical colleagues across the country, Ronny Cheung, a consultant pediatrician in London, has heard reports of strep A infections and respiratory viruses causing problems for children. “It was remarkable,” he says.
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Although strep A, for example, is generally not life-threatening – it can simply cause a sore throat or tonsillitis – in rare cases it can cause life-threatening invasive infections, including meningitis.
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