The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating an increase in the cases of invasive group A streptococcal (iGAS) infections in children, and advises parents to make sure their kids are vaccinated against influenza and chicken pox.

The health advisory was released at the end of December, with the agency noting that there was an increase in pediatric iGAS cases at a hospital in Colorado. At that hospital, there had been at least 11 reported cases of iGAS since November, with other states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota reporting increased cases as well.

Seems like there's an increase in the United Kingdom as well, with 652 cases of iGAS reported in England already during the 2022-2023 season.

This rise in cases comes as other respiratory illnesses like the flu, RSV and Covid-19 are also increasing.

The CDC reports that the overall number of pediatric iGAS cases is still low and that infections are rare in children, but they urge parents to ensure vaccinations for chicken pox and influenza particularly.

They advise for those because with chicken pox, sores can be open and vulnerable to the bacteria, and with the flu, you are at an increased risk for complications from iGAS.

There are different noninvasive and invasive conditions that come from group A Streptococcus or Streptococcus pyogenes. The commonly known strep throat used to be called acute pharyngitis and is noninvasive group A strep. Very contagious but usually mild, it affects about 5.2 million people each year.

Scarlet fever and impetigo are also caused by noninvasive group A strep.

Still, some group A infections can cause invasive diseases--where the bacteria goes right past the host's immune system and invades things like muscle, fat, lungs and the blood. These are typically parts of the body that are germ-free but can be very serious when infected.

The most important thing to note is that while the CDC is sending out this advisory, iGAS is still very rare.

Most group A strep infections can be treated easily (though a shortage of amoxicillin has put a cramp in treatment across the country) and again, good hygiene, gut health and immune vitality go a long way in prevention.