Sunday, July 21, 2024

Lethal outbreak of flesh eating bacteria raises concern

A fatal outbreak of Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), a rare “flesh-eating bacteria” disease, is spreading across Japan, sparking concern among health officials. With the lifting of Covid-era restrictions, STSS cases have skyrocketed, with 977 cases reported by June 2 this year, surpassing last year’s total of 941 cases, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID).

STSS, caused by certain strains of Group A Streptococcus (GAS), can result in severe symptoms including limb pain, swelling, fever, low blood pressure, necrosis, breathing difficulties, organ failure, and death. The rapid progression of the disease can lead to fatalities within 48 hours, making it particularly dangerous.

“Most of the deaths happen within 48 hours,” said Ken Kikuchi, a professor in infectious diseases at Tokyo Women’s Medical University. He highlighted the rapid progression of the disease, noting that patients can die within 48 hours of noticing initial symptoms.

What is STSS?

STSS, or Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome, is a severe illness caused by infection with group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria. It is characterized by the rapid onset of shock and multi-organ failure, which can be life-threatening if not promptly treated.

*Preventive Measures*

Preventive measures include good hygiene practices, prompt treatment of streptococcal infections, and close
monitoring of wounds and skin
infections. Public health education on the symptoms and risks associated with group A Streptococcus infections is also crucial for early detection and treatment.

Other countries have also experienced similar outbreaks. In late 2022, at least five European nations reported an increase in invasive group A
streptococcus (iGAS) disease cases to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO noted that the rise in cases
correlated with the lifting of COVID restrictions.

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