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Toddler Ends Up in ICU After Strep A Infection Is Dismissed as 'Just a Fever'

A 16-month-old ended up with kidney failure after her mother says their family doctor misdiagnosed her daughter

An Australian toddler ended up in the intensive care unit after a case of Strep A was dismissed as “just a fever.”

“The GP [general practitioner] said it was just a fever she’s having,” Melbourne mother Sandeep Kaur told Australia’s 7News.

However, 16-month-old Girsirat actually had a Strep A infection — which quickly landed her in the ICU for two months, as she struggled with kidney failure and body swelling that made her unable to walk.

Strep A — shorthand for streptococcus bacteria — can cause a wide variety of illnesses, according to the CDC, which notes that early treatment is key to prevent it from progressing into more serious diseases.

<p>BSIP/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty</p> A close-up view of streptococcus bacteria.

BSIP/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty

A close-up view of streptococcus bacteria.

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The bacteria, of course, causes ”strep throat,” a painful infection that can be treated by antibiotics, scarlet fever (a sore throat accompanied by a rash) — and if untreated, it can develop into rheumatic fever, which impacts the heart, joints, brain, and skin.

More rarely, Strep A can cause Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome, leading to “low blood pressure, multiple organ failure, and even death,” according to the CDC, and necrotizing fasciitis (a.k.a., the flesh-eating disease), which can cause amputations or death.

Related: 4-Year-Old Girl Nearly Dies After Strep A Leads to Flesh-Eating Bacteria: 'She Was Deteriorating'

“It was a very hard time for us,” Kaur told 7News. “It was terrible . . . we never expected that,”

Last December, the CDC cautioned that Strep A was on the rise in the United States.

And this past spring, the agency told ABC News that "preliminary 2023 data indicate that [invasive Strep A] infections have remained high in children in some areas of the country even after some respiratory viruses decreased in those areas.”

Some areas of the United States "are seeing higher levels than were seen pre-COVID-19 pandemic" the statement continued.

There are an estimated 14,000 to 25,000 cases of invasive group A strep disease a year, according to the CDC, with up to 2,300 people dying of it annually.

A rapid test — consisting of a throat swab — can detect Strep A in minutes.

Related: Mom Warns Other Parents After Son's Legs Are Amputated Following Strep and Influenza A Case

Although there is no vaccine for Strep A, the CDC says the the best way to avoid strep is by practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands often. And if caring for a sick child, wash their utensils and plates after each use, clean up dirty tissues, and encourage them to cover their mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing.

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