Sunday, October 11, 2020

Scarlet fever is making a comeback after being infected with a toxic virus, researchers say

Swell. Hide the kids.Starting to get really tired of our virus companions.

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, October 7:

Scarlet fever epidemics were deadly to children across the globe in the 1800s, but in recent decades concerns about the disease have largely faded from the minds of medical experts, in part due to the power of antibiotics.

Recently though, the bacteria responsible for scarlet fever has been mutating and making a resurgence.

New research by scientists at the University of Queensland (UQ), in collaboration with scientists around the world, has suggested the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria is growing stronger after being infected by viruses.

UQ Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre director Mark Walker co-authored a paper on the topic that was recently published in the journal, Nature Communications.

Professor Walker said they started looking into Streptococcus pyogenes after an outbreak in Asia in 2011 and then in the UK in 2014.

Between 2014 and 2018, the UK National Health Service reported a 68 per cent increase in the number of lab reports of pyogenic streptococci.

Scarlet fever was once widely feared by parents because of its harsh effects on children.

Historically, septic complications such as brain abscess, meningitis, lung abscess, pneumonia, osteomyelitis (bone infection), middle ear and soft tissue infections could follow scarlet fever and cause early death.

According to ABC Health and Wellbeing, typical scarlet fever symptoms are a sore throat, sudden high fever, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, and a rough, bright red rash on stomach and limbs.

'Three new genes'

Professor Walker said while one might expect that a virus infecting a bacteria was bad for the bacteria, this is not always the case.

"One of the big stand-outs for us was the presence of these three new genes," he said.

Professor Walker said the genes turned out to be from three viruses which had been "floating around" for a while but only recently have all come together....