Should we be worried about strep A?

ZOE Science & Nutrition

Jan 5 2023 • 45 mins

This year, cases of an invasive bacterial infection are rising earlier than usual in the US, the UK and other countries across Europe.

The group A Streptococcus bacteria - commonly known as Strep A - usually only causes mild illness. However, things have become severe in some cases, with several children dying in recent weeks.

So, should we be worried? And what symptoms should we look out for to help us identify this illness in ourselves and our families?

In today’s episode, Jonathan is joined by world-leading expert on the subject: Shiranee Sriskandan is a professor of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London whose scientific research focuses specifically on Strep A bacteria. Regular guest and ZOE co-founder Tim Spector also joins, and as one of the world’s top 100 most cited scientists, Tim has been closely following infectious diseases in the community through the ZOE Health Study.

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00:00   Introduction

00:10   Topic Introduction

01:40 Quickfire Questions

03:15 What is Strep?

04:04 How common is Strep?

05:02 Seasonality of Strep and symptoms in different climates

05:30 What makes this year different?

06:31 Can Strep make other illnesses worse?

07:07 We've already seen signs of Strep rising over time, is this due to lockdown?

09:36 How worried should we be about Strep infections?

10:10 Group A Strep will often get better on its own

11:07 The risk of rarer invasive infections is greater as the pool of cases increases

11:59 Immune response to Strep A can increase chances of Rheumatic Fever

13:35 What is Rheumatic Fever?

14:59 What are the symptoms of Strep A

16:53 How to treat Strep Throat

18:12 What is the relationship between Strep A and Scarlet Fever

18:53 Who gets Scarlet Fever and what are the symptoms?

19:34 What are the distinguishing features between covid and other sore throats

20:53 Do children get more fevers if they are younger?

22:54 What to do if you think your child has strep throat

24:01 Can you get rapid tests for Strep A?

24:25 Why has Strep throat been seemingly more prominent in the US than the UK

25:41 Different health services around the world and their respective responses to Strep

27:36 Should we be testing and treating?

30:15 What role does differing attitudes to healthcare play in this?

32:02 Should we be cautious about using antibiotics for Strep A?

33:51 What potential problems are there around antibiotics?

36:00 Would a vaccine be the answer to stopping Strep in its tracks?

38:41 Tim's top tips to boost your immunity this winter

41:06 Summary

Episode transcripts are available here

Read about Tim Spector’s ZOE Health Study here

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