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Strep/Scarlet Fever cause arthritis
2 Replies
January - June 23

IF YOU HAVE A BAD SORE THROAT, MAKE SURE YOU GET TESTED FOR "STREP" THROAT. THIS IS AN EASY TEST - A Q-TIP IS RUN OVER YOUR THROAT AND CULTURED FOR BACTERIA. While this article discusses a new outbreak in China, we live in a global society with frequent air travel and filthy planes. Bacteria travels too. Not only can streptococcal ("strep") infections cause permanent damage, they can kill you. Strep throat is very common, and requires antibiotic treatment.

Some of us were recently talking about strep and scarlet fever, and the relationship to "rheumatism" and arthritis. My mother (from a family of "old-time" doctors, and herself an RN) said that her "rheumatism" (later diagnosed as fibro) was caused by her bout with scarlet fever as a child - that was before antibiotics were available to treat strep infections. Her mother also suffered from what would today be diagnosed as rheumatism or fibro. May I note, also, neither of these women appeared to be depressed - but they had sleep disorders, chronic pain and low energy levels. How many of us have had repeated strep throat infections? I have.

I lifted some comments snipped from today's Yahoo article on Scarlet Fever by Lisa Collier Cool (the ALL CAPS emphasis is mine):

"Scarlet fever—the much-feared scourge of the past—is back, with an outbreak in Hong Kong that has killed two children and sickened hundreds. More than 21,000 cases have also been reported in China so far this year, nearly quadruple the rate for the same period in 2010, while infections have tripled in Macau, prompting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to issue a warning to travelers to China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

What makes the outbreak particularly alarming is that the strain infecting the region is 60 PERCENT RESISTANT TO ANTIBIOTICS commonly used to treat it, compared to 10 to 30 percent resistance in previous strains…

What’s behind the reemergence of scarlet fever? Although scarlet fever is no longer as lethal as it was in the 19th century—when it ranked as a leading cause of death in kids—the disease has never fully disappeared. Between 1999 and 2006, there were 9,400 cases of scarlet fever in the US, according to Yahoo! News. Hong Kong scientists who isolated the bacteria in a six-year-old patient found a GENETIC MUTATION THAT MAY MAKE THE NEW STRAIN MORE CONTAGIOUS THAN USUAL, which could explain the dramatic rise in cases in the affected region.

Is the outbreak likely to spread to the US? So far, there are no reports of any surge in scarlet fever cases in the US. Health authorities warn travelers to Hong Kong, China and Macau to wash their hands frequently and avoid crowded places that lack fresh air to reduce the risk of catching the disease.

What causes scarlet fever? THE SAME BACTERIA THAT CAUSE STREP THROAT TRIGGER SCARLET FEVER: GROUP A STREPTOCOCCUS. In order to cause scarlet fever, the bacteria must produce a certain toxin. It causes a skin reaction, leading to the characteristic bright red rash that gives the disease its name.

The Group A strep bacteria that spark scarlet fever were also the culprits in the 1990 death of Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, at age 53. Like the child in Hong Kong, he developed TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME…. the reason for his strep A infection is unknown, but his illness also included PNEUMONIA, ONE OF THE COMPLICATIONS OF SCARLET FEVER. The bacterial infection progressed with such frightening speed that by the time he went to the hospital, antibiotic treatment was administered too late to save his life. HEALTH AUTHORITIES BELIEVE THAT GROUP A STREP IS BECOMING MORE POTENT AND STRIKES MORE OFTEN THAN IN PAST, the NY Times reports.

HOW IS IT SPREAD? The infection is transmitted through airborne droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can also catch it by touching surfaces contaminated by the spray and sharing beverages, food, or eating utensils with an infected person. In rare cases, scarlet fever can be spread by contaminated food, Medscape reports. The incubation period is 12 hours to 7 days and people with the disease can infect others before the symptoms show up.

What are the symptoms? The hallmark of scarlet fever is a sunburn-like rash with tiny red bumps that makes the skin feel rough, like sandpaper. The patient’s tongue often resembles a strawberry--red and bumpy—or may have a whitish coating. Other symptoms include a fever of 101 or higher, a red, sore throat that makes swallowing painful, swollen glands, and less commonly, vomiting or belly pain. After the rash fades, skin on the fingertips and toes may peel.

Who is at risk? Although anyone can get scarlet fever, it is most likely to strike school-age children, according to the CDC. All of the reported Hong Kong cases have occurred in kids. People who have been exposed to the bacteria in the past are usually immune. Medscape reports that about 80 percent of people over the age of 10 have developed lifelong protective antibodies against the disease. [ I'M NOT SURE THIS IS CORRECT, as I have personally had numerous strep infections requiring antibiotics. Perhaps the author is referring to an immunity to Scarlet Fever..? -January]

HOW SERIOUS IS SCARLET FEVER? If treated promptly, it usually clears up without any serious complications. However, if it goes UNTREATED, THE BACTERIA CAN SPREAD TO THE TONSILS, SINUSES, SKIN, EARS, AND BLOOD. MORE SERIOUS CASES CAN LEAD TO PNEUMONIA, MIDDLE EAR INFECTIONS, RHEUMATIC FEVER, KIDNEY DISEASE, ARTHRITIS, AND TOXIC SHOCK, the condition that killed one of the children in the Hong Kong outbreak.

What is the treatment? Scarlet fever is TREATED WITH ANTIBIOTICS, REST AND FLUIDS. Although the Hong Kong strain is resistant to some of the antibiotics used to treat the disease, penicillin still works. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a growing health threat worldwide, as more and more bacteria are mutated to be resistant to some or all of the common antibiotics, as a result of overuse of these medications.

What are the best ways to PREVENT SCARLET FEVER? The CDC recommends washing your hands frequently and avoiding sharing eating utensils, linens, towels and other personal items. It’s particularly CRUCIAL FOR ANYONE WITH A SORE THROAT TO WASH HIS OR HER HANDS FREQUENTLY, TO REDUCE THE RISK OF SPREADING THE BACTERIA. The germs are most easily transmitted in close quarters, putting family members at risk if there is an infected person in the household. There is no vaccine to prevent scarlet fever or strep throat."


bbrave - December 12

January, do you therefore think that many cases of fibromyalgia could be due to having had an undiagnosed case of Strept in the past that wreaks havoc on our bodies? It does make a lot of sense. These days using antibiotics for every sore throat is not a good idea, and running to the doctor for a Strept test for every sore throat seems excessive. Now I wonder if I may have had Strept in the past which led to my fibro. My teenage daughter has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia too. I feel guilty that I may have neglected to have her checked for Strept on one of her occasional sore throats. She has joint aches, cannot sleep well, severe chronic fatigue, passes out about once a month, trouble focusing, and now we are suspecting heart issues. She doesn't have a rash, but I have one every time I have a fever or a stress like childbirth.

Could it be that our fibromyalgia meetings have a group of people with the consequences of undiagnosed Strept from our past? I don't think my doctor ever considered that. If we have had Strept years ago, is that even still treatable? Did your mother seek treatment for this?


January - December 24

Hi bbrave,

I don't know for sure if there is a link between strep and fibromyalgia. I posted this quoted article several years ago because of the link between strep, scarlet fever and arthritis. Since joint pain is one of the major problems in fibro people, I wondered if strep might be the root cause of SOME fibromyalgia cases. I still think it's possible, but nobody responded to this post… until now! Strep throat can usually be treated with antibiotics, but as this article states, there are some strains that are now resistant to antibiotics. If strep invades the whole body (and it doesn't always), then it MIGHT cause scarlet fever. I do know my mother had scarlet fever, and she later developed fibro. I had lots of strep throats, and I developed fibro too - but I never had scarlet fever. I was treated with antibiotics for strep many times, and I still got the symptoms of fibro. So please don't feel too guilty about your daughter. Fibro symptoms can be caused by many different things...

From the symptoms you describe for your daughter, I'd suggest you check into celiac disease which is a disease of malabsorption. The severe fatigue can come from deficiencies of vitamins and minerals. I had all the same symptoms as your daughter, and was diagnosed with fibro. After years of spiraling downhill in spite of taking the fibro drugs, I quit them - and cured a lot of my pain, fatigue and depression with a strict gluten free diet, even though the doctors told me I was wrong. I later got a diagnosis of celiac disease by a doctor who specializes in that. And I have to warn you, most doctors don't understand celiac disease, so you will have to educate yourself. Pain and fatigue, along with skin problems are hallmarks of celiac. Also, it is genetic, so your daughter has it, you might have it too. It is a little different in everyone.

Celiac is an auto-immune disease and it causes all kinds of symptoms that match up with fibro. In addition, it puts you at risk for cancers. All this can be avoided if you quit eating gluten. That means avoiding wheat, rye, and barley and everything made from them (like a popular soy sauce or beer or malt vinegars, along with many over the counter meds and prescription drugs with fillers). Learning what foods to avoid is the hardest part, but the diet is not hard. Most processed food is not gluten free. You have to eat a diet of fresh fruit, veggies, eggs and meat. Some people can tolerate dairy, but some can't. People argue about oats, but about 30% of celiacs really are allergic to the protein (avenin) in oats also.

You have to learn the diet, you can't trust the food industry - which is on a "gluten free" kick. Everybody is suddenly selling "gluten free" food because so many people discovered that avoiding gluten made them feel better. It's probably better to avoid all those so-called "safe" grains they are using to sell you "gluten free" pizza. Not worth it! I got sick from eating so-called GF "rice cakes" from Quaker Oats. They were cross contaminated. If you are having severe problems, it's probably best to avoid dairy until your intestine heals. This can take 6 months to a year of a very strict diet. Then dairy in small amounts might be tolerated.

You can learn more about celiac disease by searching my previous posts on here. Or check out celiac (dot) com. Or go to youtube and google "Dr. Alessio Fasano Spectrum of Gluten Related Disorders." He is a top researcher on celiac disease. Don't be put off by the parts with medical science, there is a lot of good straightforward information throughout this video, so keep going! You will see him mention all the symptoms your daughter has. By the way, celiac is genetic, so if she has it, you might also. Wishing you and your daughter the best - and I hope this unlocks your problem. If not, keep searching! I've seen enough on this website to know that some people can really improve their pain and fatigue if they can just find the right answers.



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