‘It’s strep’s turn now’: The latest post-pandemic infection sending kids to the hospital

A few months ago, high cases of influenza and RSV were getting kids sick and driving parents nuts. Now, another infection that pediatricians see every winter is keeping kids out of school.

“We have seen an increase in strep,” said Dr. Gabrina Dixon, a pediatrician at Children’s
National Hospital in D.C. “Usually, strep ends around April, and we’re still in April, so it still could be the season of strep.”

This week, Epic Research, a firm that facilitates the sharing of electronic health records, said that rates of strep throat in February were 30% higher than they were in 2017, which was the last time we saw as many cases of the bacteria-caused illness.

Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed trips to the emergency room for strep throat also reached a five-year high in February and March.

“It’s strep’s turn now,” said Dixon. “You get strep the same way you get viruses, from coughs or respiratory droplets.

“Continue to be safe, washing hands, if you’re not feeling well, stay away from people… Strep is easily spread and that’s why we see it in kids a lot because it just can spread so easily.”

In some cases, strep has been strong enough to outlast antibiotics like amoxicillin, which is normally used to treat the illness. But Dixon said most of the time, the usual treatments still work.

Of course, if you start noticing a sore throat, it might be allergies and not strep.

“We have high pollen counts in the area and so if you know you have allergies, I would say start taking your allergy medications,” said Dixon. “Allergies are really big right now.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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