Deadly case of Strep getting around the valley

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A potentially deadly bacteria could be to blame for the death of a Columbus four-year-old, and News Leader Nine will tell you how to protect your family.

Flu season is among us, so many people are on alert for different illnesses in themselves and their children and a recent child's death has the health department urging parents to look out for a few more serious symptoms.

The West Central Georgia Health District recently released that a four-year-old girl passed away, not from what some doctors thought was meningitis,  but a possibly serious case of Streptococcus.

[Read: Parents asked to monitor family's health]

"We know and are aware there are some other types of infections going on in the community right now and among them is a Strep infection, specifically group A Streptococcus," explained Eileen Usman, an Epidemiologist for the West Central Georgia Health District.

Strep Throat isn't an uncommon illness during the colder months, but one version of that bacteria can cause serious and even life-threatening infections.

Usman said, "Sometimes you can carry it, and carry it for a long time without problems. Sometimes you can get exposed to the bacteria and within a couple of weeks you get infected with it."

The West Central Georgia Health District released this statement: "Should any member of your family develop signs or symptoms such as fever, sore throat, vomiting, or a flat red rash or skin blisters, please contact your physician and inform the doctor that your child or family member may have been exposed to a bacteria called Group A Streptococcus."

"There's no vaccine to prevent it and we really depend on, to reduce these infections, covering your mouth and nose when you cough, coughing in your sleeve, hand washing," added Usman.

Usman also says the most important thing a family can do, is simply monitor their health, "If your child is not acting, behaving or responding like they usually do, then think to yourself, is this the time to call my pediatrician or my physician?"

It sounds simple: covering your mouth and washing your hands, but these small steps really can mean the difference of life and death when it comes to these serious cases of bacteria.

[For more information on Group A Streptococcus or GAS click here.]

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