Health. What is this “flesh-eating bacteria” that worries Japan?

517 cases between 1er January and March 17, depending on Japan Times. Japan is concerned about an explosion in cases of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome after 941 cases were reported throughout 2023, a record year. In the same year, SCTS caused 30% of the deaths of infected persons, viz. “extremely high death rate”, According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The Streptococcus A in question

SCTS is usually caused by Group A Streptococcus (GAS) or Streptococcus pyogenes, a bacteria that is transmitted only from person to person. Responsible for benign infections such as angina and impetigo in 80% of cases, it is responsible for more rarely, invasive infections.

GAS in particular causes very serious and often fatal invasive infections:

  • Fasciitis or necrotizing dermohypodermatitis: These include “DComplete destruction of soft tissue hence its nickname “flesh-eating bacteria “, Public Health France recalls;
  • Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (SSTS) causes multiple organ failure;
  • Meningitis, inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain.

We also see endocarditis and septicemia in invasive infections associated with GAS.

Aggressive infections that are often fatal

According to statistics from Public Health France, 50% of meningitis cases are caused by S. Invasive infections caused by pyogenes are fatal in 40% of cases of SCTS, 20 to 45% of cases of necrotizing dermohypoderma. “With high epidemic potential, S. Pyogenes are transmitted through the air (drop, editor’s note) or direct contacts in the patient community”, Note Public Health France.

According to Japan Times, transmission can also occur through injuries, especially to the hands. Diagnosis of invasive infection is based on detection of sterile bacteria.

Japanese authorities urge the population to seek medical advice quickly in case of pain, swelling of the extremities or fever. Treatment is based on taking antibiotics. However, Pasteur suggests an increase in resistance to the institution S. pyogenes For many families of antibiotics.

Cases rise in Europe

In 2021, the Pasteur Institute published “UThere has been no real resurgence of invasive streptococcal A infections in industrialized countries, and especially in Europe. In France, this invasive infection has been increasing since 2000, with an incidence rate of 1.2 to 3.3 per 100,000 inhabitants.

In 2022 in particular, several European countries including France, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden reported an increase in the number of cases of invasive group A streptococcal infection in children under 10 years of age.

In France and the United Kingdom, the number of cases of invasive GAS infection in children is several times higher than the levels reported before the pandemic for the same period. » The World Health Organization noted at the time.

Source: Japan Times, Public Health France, WHO, Pasteur Institute

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