Expert: Record number of invasive strep A infections in Canada 

Published: 25 January 2024

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has noted more than 4,600 invasive group A streptococcus samples from 2023 – the highest Canada has seen. Group A streptococcus, a bacteria that can cause illnesses like strep throat, can develop into acute infections that can lead to pneumonia, a flesh-eating disease, or toxic shock syndrome. Some Canadians across the country that contracted the bacteria have developed infections requiring hospital treatment. (CTV News

Here is an expert from McGill University who can provide comment on this issue: 

Jesse Papenburg, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics 

"While the vast majority of throat infections are viral, Group A Streptococcus is the number one bacterial cause of these common afflictions and is also a frequent cause of superficial skin infections. These strep infections are most common in preschool and school-age children but can occur at any age. In rare cases, Group A Streptococcus can cause invasive disease, which is a deeper and much more serious infection of the blood, lungs, central nervous system, or other organs. Invasive disease is a medical emergency and can lead to long-term disability and death. It is most likely that the recent spike in cases is related to the current seasonal epidemics of influenza and RSV as infection with a respiratory virus can precede and facilitate invasive streptococcal disease. However, the possibility that a more aggressive strain of Group A Streptococcus is circulating is also being investigated." 

Jesse Papenburg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and an Infectious Disease specialist and medical microbiologist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. His research focuses on the epidemiology, surveillance, and diagnosis of severe viral respiratory infections among children in Québec and Canada. 

jesse.papenburg [at] (English, French) 

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