On the last day of Minister Carla Vizzotti's health management, the Ministry of Health released new data on the bacterium that is of most concern this year due to its unprecedented rise: Streptococcus pyogenes in its invasive version. This is the first time that the data has been updated with an interval of just two weeks.
The figures revealed on Saturday speak of an increase of 93 cases and 10 deaths in the last 14 days. That means the annual total now stands at 732 cases and 103 deaths. The year in which there had been the most cases so far, before 2023, had been 2018, with 104. Although this year is not yet closed, it is already seven times the volume of the previous record.
The trend is not only in Argentina. Several countries in Europe reported an increase in cases since late 2022 and into 2023. In the United Kingdom, for example, an exceptionally high number was observed with a rate of 7.8 cases per 100,1 inhabitants (in Argentina the cumulative incidence is 57.100 cases per <>,<>).
For its part, Ireland reported that 2023 data indicates that the number of cases is 4.5 times higher than expected, with 354 cases in the first six months of the year compared to an average of 78 cases for the equivalent period in years leading up to the Covid pandemic (2017-19).
Australia also joins the wave and reported that in 2023 it already had 2,501 cases, while in 2022 there had been 1,162 and in 2021, only 246. In Spain, recently, a study reported "a large increase in cases" in a hospital in the north of the country from November 2022 to June 2023.
Surveillance of the bacterium seeks to detect whether the most aggressive clones of the bacterium grow. Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez
The key data, revealed in the latest report known in Argentina, is good news: judging by the latest figures, the curve is now showing a slowdown compared to the growth it had had, especially until the first week of October. That indicator also shows that deaths in the country went from about one a day to one every almost day and a half.
Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A Streptococcus, is the most common bacterial cause of acute pharyngitis. It commonly causes different skin infections such as impetigo, cellulitis and scarlet fever. But sometimes it can present itself as a severe form or invasive disease, which is responsible for 500,<> deaths annually in the world.
The bacteria is transmitted by the respiratory route through droplets of saliva expelled when coughing, sneezing or talking from carriers. It can also occur through direct contact with people who have wounds infected by the bacteria. The incubation period of the disease ranges from one to three days.
According to experts, few people who come into contact with a virulent strain will develop the invasive disease; Most people, on the other hand, will suffer from a common skin or throat infection and some may have no symptoms.
Although healthy people can contract the invasive disease, the population most at risk is those with underlying diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and kidney dialysis. Cuts in the skin, such as surgical wounds or chickenpox, can also provide an opportunity for bacteria to enter the body.
According to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, sick people should avoid going to public places (work, school, social gatherings) and restrict contact with their cohabitants. Also, keep the flu and chickenpox vaccination schedule up to date, do not self-medicate and, if you receive antibiotics, complete the schedule. Finally, wash your hands frequently, do not share personal objects and ventilate the rooms.