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Local pediatricians fight surge of strep throat

Tom Magnarelli

Central and northern New York pediatricians are facing an increase of strep throat.

Dr. Jana Shaw, a professor of pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University, said the illness is accompanying a surge in respiratory viruses the community has experienced this winter.

"As children get more infected with viruses now after the lockdowns, the strep will find its way and can cause more severe disease," she said.

Shaw said, unlike many common viruses that parents can treat at home, strep throat is bacterial and often needs medical treatment. It also presents differently than the common cold.

"The classical picture for strep is an abrupt onset of fever, sore throat, you often can see white patches on the tonsils in the back of the throat, and the glands around the neck will get swollen," she said.

When in doubt, Shaw said reach out to your healthcare provider. Left untreated, strep could lead to an infection in a child’s bloodstream, or patients could develop complications that could affect their kidneys or heart.

While the number of cases is expected to go down in the months to come, prevention efforts could help stem the surge right now.

"We are limited to minimizing the risk of transmission of this bacteria, which includes hand washing, trying not to touch your throat and mouth with your fingers and then touching other surfaces,” said Shaw.

Shaw also recommends keeping children home from school and daycare when they’re sick since those are some of the most common settings for strep throat transmission.

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