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By Max Erikson

Multiple strep cases reported in county


October 11, 2017

Klickitat Valley Health (KVH) is reporting an unusually high number of strep throat cases in the Goldendale community in the last year. One alarming concern for KVH has been the significant number of reoccurring patients being treated for the same illness.

KVH says strep is not normally recurrent in patients, and the hospital is working closely with Clark County and the Washington State Healthcare Associated Infection program to better understand why this is occurring in the community.

The illness is reported by some affected to be unusually resistant to treatment. Some hit with this strep say it took weeks and multiple round of ever-stronger antibiotics to make a dent in it. The good news is that the illness is not the easiest thing to catch. It's not airborne. Generally, experts say, you have to come into direct contact with respiratory droplets. That's what the bacteria travel in. When someone who is infected coughs or sneezes, the bacteria are carried on the droplets. Commonly infection is acquired when you touch something that has the droplets, then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Most often that happens through direct person-to-person contact; less frequently it can happen through touching a surface.

KVH is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for diagnosis and treatment.

Strep throat is caused by streptococcal bacteria in the throat and tonsils, causing a severe sore throat. Strep is not a viral infection, so it can be treated with antibiotics.

It typically occurs in children 5-15 years of age and can take two to five days for someone exposed to strep to become ill.

Symptoms of strep throat are:

• Fever of 101 or higher

• Severe sore throat

• Swollen lymph nodes

• Red spots in the roof of the mouth

• Red and swollen tonsils with white patches

• Body and headaches

• Upset stomach with nausea.

Testing for strep throat is done with a rapid strep test by swabbing of the back of the throat. Health care providers can determine if a person has strep within a few minutes, but the test is not 100 percent accurate.

If a patient tests negative with a rapid test, but still has symptoms of strep, a second swab test, or throat culture, is sent to a laboratory to determine if strep in present, taking between 1-2 days.

Prompt treatment is important to prevent strep from moving to other parts of the body and can cause complications if left untreated.

Antibiotics are prescribed to treat strep throat and can take up to 72 hours for symptoms to improve, but a person is no longer contagious after 24 hours of antibiotic treatment according to KVH.

It can take up to seven to 10 days for strep to fully clear even though a person will start to feel better within a few days of using antibiotics.

KVH says children and adults may return to school and work after 24 hours of antibiotics if they feel up to it.

Much like colds and flu, strep can be transmitted through close contact exposure with an infected person, or by touching infected surfaces and then rubbing your eyes or nose.

Preventative measures can be taken to prevent exposure to the infection.

KVH recommends washing your hands after coughing or sneezing, and before handling foods. Wash dishes thoroughly after someone who is sick has used them, and start using a new tooth brush.

Not all sore throats are caused by strep. Some sore throats may be in conjunction with other cold symptoms such as coughing and a runny or stuffy nose.

Strep throat usually doesn't come with the same symptoms of a cough or runny nose, more associated with the common cold, which is viral.

Covering coughs can help slow the spread of strep, and always stay home if you have symptoms of strep to avoid exposing others.

-with reporting by Lou Marzeles


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