By Prathiba Raju and Abhijeet Singh

New Delhi: Despite several technological advancements, incorporation of innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and acquiring domain specialisation the Healthcare Industry which earlier claimed to have much better prepared for monitoring and detecting potential epidemiological risks found itself in disarray with the latest development in the far east.

The recent outbreak of a flesh-eating bacteria also known as Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STTS) which claimed around 1000 lives in Japan provides adequate subsistence to the above argument. ET Healthworld engaged with several experts to dissect the problem and understand its unforeseen aspects.

Providing insights over the rare disease Dr Neha Rastogi Panda, Consultant-Infectious Diseases, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram said, “Flesh-eating bacteria claiming lives in Japan is a Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria, are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, causing illnesses from mild infections like strep throat and impetigo to severe diseases such as necrotizing fasciitis and Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS).”

Responding to a query related to the possible diagnostic strategies she suggested, “Rapid antigen detection tests (RADT) or throat cultures, which identify the presence of the bacteria in the throat or other infected sites and Blood or tissue cultures can be used to confirm severe infections like STSS.”

Acknowledging the recent upsurge Dr Panda cautioned that it can be fatal without prompt medical intervention and early medical intervention is crucial for managing symptoms and preventing severe complications.suggesting preventive measures.

While touching upon its preventive measures she added, “Good hygiene practices like regular hand washing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and promptly treating wounds. Early medical intervention is crucial for managing symptoms and preventing severe complications.

Sharing her insights over the potential sources of this rare bacteria another expert Dr Mala Kaneria, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai voiced, “The source of infection is usually a skin wound or an open wound, which can begin with fever, myalgia, body ache and malaise and rapidly progress to limb pain, necrosis (peeling of skin and underlying tissues) and eventually to septicaemia (blood stream infection and multiorgan involvement), with the development of hypotension, increased heart rate (tachycardia), breathlessness and liver, kidney and heart involvement.”

On being asked about most vulnerable demographics and their management Dr Kaneria commented, “Individuals above the age of 40-50 years are more likely to suffer serious consequences, probably owing to coexisting morbidities while prompt admission in the intensive care unit and timely administration of higher antibiotics and intravenous fluids can be lifesaving.

Addressing the elephant in the room i.e the severity of the problem with the context of India Dr Divya Joshi, Consultant-Infectious disease, Fortis Hospital Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore underlined , “While a surge of flesh-eating bacteria in Japan is concerning but India’s immediate risk is likely low. Though Japan has seen a significant rise in infections this year, exceeding previous annual totals, it’s important to note this is happening regionally and may be due to factors specific to Japan following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Decoding the possible reasons behind this recent upsurge Dr Vasanth Nagvekar, infectious disease consultant, H.N. Reliance Hospital commented, “The exact reason for its spread among humans is unclear, although there is speculation about the post-COVID immunological status of individuals potentially playing a role, but this remains uncertain.

In the near future, experts did not anticipate the possibility of the disease outbreak in India. Citing a past event, Dr Nagvekar added, “A similar incident occurred in the UK in 2022 involving the highly toxigenic strain MUK1. Therefore, for now, we need to remain vigilant, and there is no cause for concern in India.”he recent outbreak of flesh-eating bacteria, known as Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS), in Japan has raised concerns within the medical community. While experts do not anticipate an imminent outbreak in India, they emphasize vigilance, good hygiene practices, and note that those above 50 are the most vulnerable demographic.”

Experts agree that, although the immediate risk of an STSS outbreak in India is low, ongoing vigilance and adherence to preventive measures are essential to mitigate potential threats.

  • Published On Jun 25, 2024 at 11:57 AM IST

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