Threat Escalates as Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome Cases Multiply

United States: The incidence of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), a fatal infection caused by the bacteria responsible for strep throat, is surging at an unprecedented rate. STSS, known for inducing multiple organ failure and limb necrosis, carries a mortality rate of approximately 30%.

Particularly virulent strains are increasingly being identified, prompting experts to advocate for heightened vigilance, especially among the elderly population, who are more susceptible to infection. Recently, the cases linked to the infection are high in Japan. 

Transmission of Streptococcus bacteria primarily occurs through human contact and airborne droplets. Although infected individuals often remain asymptomatic, the bacterium can invade the bloodstream and tissue, including muscle, occasionally culminating in STSS.

Initial symptoms typically include fever and chills, with the infection swiftly progressing to induce a state of shock characterized by plummeting blood pressure and multiple organ failure, as reported by the Japan Times. 

This makes Japan the second most affected country after USA this year the National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported 941 STSS incidence last year which was a record high since 1999. Up to date May 12 of this year the cumulative death rate was 851, that is 2. This indicates that mortality rates for infant was eight times higher than that of the previous year.

Streptococcus are of different types, they include A, B and G Streptococci – this is a highly virulent M1UK strain of group A Streptococci bacteria that originated in Britain in the previous decade and has been Spoken in the region in the latter half of the previous year especially the Kanto region.

While the Ministry of Health is intensifying surveillance efforts, the correlation between this strain and the upsurge in STSS cases remains ambiguous.

“Elderly individuals aged 65 and above represent the majority of STSS patients,” noted Professor Ken Kikuchi of Tokyo Women’s Medical University Hospital. “Bacteria often gain entry through minor foot injuries such as abrasions from ill-fitting shoes or rashes stemming from athlete’s foot,” the Japan Times reported. 

Kikuchi urged caregivers for the elderly to meticulously inspect their charges’ feet daily to ensure cleanliness.

Diagnosing STSS in its nascent stages poses challenges, often necessitating the progression of symptoms for accurate evaluation.

Prompt intervention is imperative when patients exhibit rapid foot swelling and fevers exceeding 39 degrees Celsius.

“The infection can be managed with timely administration of antibiotics, although surgical amputation of affected areas may be warranted if infections advance,” Kikuchi cautioned, adding, “Individuals experiencing severe symptoms should seek treatment at hospitals offering inpatient services.”

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