A Henrico child has died from strep throat, prompting a warning from local health officials.
The preschool-age child died this past weekend.
The victim attended Kids in Discovery preschool on Gayton Road in western Henrico County. Letters were sent home to parents of other children attending that facility asking them to watch for signs of illness and to seek prompt medical attention if any are noticed.
A copy of the letter is below.
Health officials said that strep throat is common and usually not as severe as this fatal case. However, the victim's strep got past the usual barriers and the child developed a massive infection.
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Copyright 2012 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
Recently, a child attending Kids in Discovery Preschool recently passed away from a strep infection. Strep infections usually cause strep throat, scarlet fever or impetigo (skin infection). Strep infections are caused by bacteria called group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (Streptococcus pyogenes). Symptoms of strep throat include throat pain, difficulty swallowing, red and swollen tonsils with white patches, tiny red spots on the back of the roof of the mouth, swollen, tender lymph nodes in the neck, fever, headache, rash, and stomachache. Symptoms of scarlet fever include abdominal pain, a bright red color in the underarm and groin areas, chills, fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, a swollen or red tongue, vomiting, and a rash that often first appears on the neck and chest before spreading over the body. The rash usually feels "sandpapery" and may peel as it heals. Symptoms of impetigo include blisters filled with a yellow or honey-colored fluid that may ooze or crust over. Blisters are typically located on the face, hands or feet and may cause itching. Symptoms such as a mild sore throat with a runny nose, cough and congestion are usually not caused by strep.
Strep infections are spread by direct contact with body fluids, such as secretions from the nose, throat or wound of an infected person. Casual contact (as in work and school) rarely spreads the bacteria. It usually takes 2 to 5 days from exposure to develop an infection. The risk of spreading the infection is greatest when an individual is ill. The spread of strep may be reduced by good hand washing.
Some strep infections can be severe. If the infection spreads to parts of the body that are ordinarily sterile, it is called an invasive Group A Strep infection and it is a medical emergency. If your child develops symptoms of infection, such as fever, throat pain, red or swollen tonsils, headache, rash, stomachache or becomes listless, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Because strep infections are caused by bacteria, when they occur they should be treated with antibiotics to prevent more severe illness and complications. It is very important that children who begin antibiotics to treat a strep infection take the medication exactly as prescribed, completing the full course to prevent recurrence. Daycare attendants diagnosed with strep infections should stay home from daycare for at least 24 hours after beginning the first dose of antibiotics. Children with a fever should stay home from daycare until 24 hours after fever has subsided.
If your child develops symptoms of strep throat, please contact his/her physician for evaluation and diagnosis. When taking your child to the physician, we recommend bringing this letter so the physician is aware of what is occurring in your child's daycare.
Please feel free to contact our District Epidemiologist, Jessica Watson, at (804) 501-5216 if you have any questions.
William Nelson, MD
Acting Health Director, Henrico Health District
Virginia Department of Health