Ireland has experienced an 'unusual upsurge' in invasive Group A Streptococcus (iGAS) disease, particularly in children under 18 years, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
Data from 2023 indicates that the number of Strep A cases are 4.5-times higher than expected.
A total of 354 cases were recorded in the first six months of the year compared with an average of 78 cases for the equivalent period during the pre-pandemic years of 2017-2019.
Between October 2nd, 2022 and August 26th 2023, a total of 480 cases of iGAS were notified in Ireland.
Similar increases in Strep A activity have been reported in other European countries, including Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
iGAS infections in Ireland typically peak during the first six months of the year.
The increase observed towards the end of 2022 is the first time a peak has been reported outside this usual period of seasonal increase.
They said this could be explained as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic when normal social mixing patterns were interrupted, leading to changes in transmission of diseases such as Strep A.
The HPSC said of the 480 cases, 189 or 39 per cent were aged under 18 years, of whom 166 were aged 0-9 years.
This contrasts with the pre-pandemic years when approximately 25 per cent of iGAS infections were in children aged under 18 years.
Among cases notified since October 2022, there have been 12 deaths in children (10 in children aged under 10 and two in children aged 10-17 years) and 18 in adults (with an age range of 46-96 years).
A total of 414 notifications of iGAS infection were reported through the Computerised Infectious Diseases Reporting (CIDR) system up to August 26th.
Their latest report is based on data available on August 28th, 2023 and presents data up to 26th August 2023.
With 394 cases of iGAS infection for the year-to-date the numbers are significantly higher than recorded for the equivalent period last year (32 cases) and over the three years immediately prior to the pandemic, 2017-2019.(average 94; ranging from 72 to 111 cases).
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