Montreal public health officials say two children have died from strep A amid an uptick in infections across the city.
Health authorities have reported four cases in the city as of Dec. 15 and the deaths of two children aged two years or younger. Officials recorded between zero and one case per year between 2017 and 2021.
Officials say their investigation showed no epidemiological link between the Montreal cases and are calling on health professionals to keep an eye out for symptoms compatible with strep — particularly in children.
The World Health Organization has said that France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have reported an increase in invasive strep A infections in children in recent weeks.
The WHO says it’s likely the increase in disease in children in Europe is linked to the rise in circulation of respiratory viruses — including seasonal flu and respiratory syncytial virus — adding that those viruses may increase the risk of a strep A infection.
Group A streptococcus is a bacteria commonly found in the throat and on the skin of many healthy people. About 20 per cent of healthy people carry this bacteria without being sick, while some have mild symptoms including sore throat and skin infections.