Currently there is a streptococcus outbreak in the UK, and tragically there have been over 15 deaths in children from the invasive Group A Streptococcus. This is understandably causing a lot of fear and distress in the UK, and even in NZ people are asking what they can do. It is summer here and there is no need to be concerned about a widespread outbreak here, but this information may be of use to you in the future.
Antibiotics may be the answer for some people, but even without the risk increasing antibiotic resistance you may want to avoid using antibiotics or save them in case they are needed for a more severe infection.
The two common presentations for streptococcus infection are Scarlet Fever (bright red rash, fever and headache) and Strep throat. The cause of the deaths in the UK is from Invasive Group A Strep causing Streptococcal Toxic Shock syndrome. Symptoms to watch for are fever, dizziness, confusion, low blood pressure, a rash and abdominal pain. These symptoms should be treated as a potential emergency and please seek medical help as soon as possible.
Streptococcus infection carries other risks that can have severe consequences:
Rheumatic Fever which can affect the valves of the heart, joints, skin and brain. The damage to the heart valves can require heart surgery and cause lifelong debility.
Unfortunately also becoming more common and well recognised these days is Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infection, or PANDAS. PANDAS is associated with mood changes, anxiety and OCD, behavioural problems as well as physical tics like Tourette’s, and can be both complex and relapsing.
If you have any concerns at any stage please seek medical advice and a diagnosis.
If seeing a doctor you can always ask the pros and cons of a treatment, and with something like an infection ask the warning signs to look out for and at what stage you need to take the antibiotics or seek further help.
So let’s look at treatment options.
Naturopathic, herbal and nutritional support is important for any infection-
Vitamin C helps the white blood cells get to where they need to.
Vitamin D modulates both innate and adaptive immunity.
Zinc, Selenium and Magnesium are all important.
Herbal immune modulating supplements like echinacea, garlic or olive leaf may also be useful.
Reducing inflammatory foods and particularly sugar also supports immune system functioning.
I primarily work as a Classical Homeopath, which means we match the symptoms of the disease or problem to the characteristic symptoms of the remedy. You can also use Isopathy – which means using the same remedy for the condition that caused it, so in this case using Streptococcus nosode for a Streptococcus disease. For some people this works, for others it doesn’t. I had a case of two children who had swab confirmed strep throat, chose to watch and monitor but their Doctor requested they treat with the Streptococcus nosode. The sore throats resolved with supportive treatment (gargles, supplements etc) so they went for a second swab, and were still strep positive. Did the Strep nosode prevent complications? Maybe. Or maybe they wouldn’t have had complications anyway and Strep is part of their normal commensal bacteria. It is hard to quantify the results with using the nosode, whereas matching the symptoms you can always change the remedy when the symptoms change.
Strep Throat remedies to consider:
Belladonna is useful for right sided sore throats, that feel raw. The throat is bright red, inflamed, and dry. It feels constricted, and they have difficulty swallowing, to the point that they don’t want to drink.
Lachesis is for left sided sore throat with pain that extends to the ear. They have a sense of constriction to the point they cannot bear anything around their throat. The throat will be swollen, with a darker purple colour. Pain is worse for empty swallowing and liquids, and they feel worse when they wake up.
Mercurius can be used for raw and burning sore throats, with redness, swelling and a lot of dryness. They have swollen glands, and feel like they need to swallow constantly. They will have offensive breath, and may have a flabby looking or coated tongue.
Phytolacca is for sore throats which feel like they have a burning ball of iron on the throat. The throat is darker red in colour, and pin in swallowing is at the base of the tongue. There is a constant desire to clear the throat, it may be right sided, and frequently they have swollen and sore glands as well.
Scarlet Fever remedies to consider:
Belladonna is the classic Scarlet fever remedy, with the bright red, hot, dry rash, bright red sore throat, and a strawberry tongue – where the tongue is pink but has spots like the spots on a strawberry.
Aconite is for early onset, they are hot, dry with a red rash. The throat may be a dark red, and they can have full post. There can be an aggravation at night – around midnight- and they can be anxious and panicky.
Arsenicum Album is sometimes indicated if the rash doesn’t come out properly, and they are anxious and have no energy – although they are restless and can’t get comfortable.
There are other remedies that may be more appropriate if the Scarlet fever progresses and they have a more severe state. At this point it is worth consulting a Homeopath so you get the professional support.
Finally I want to touch on Homeoprophylaxis. Scarlet Fever was the first ever case of prevention of disease using a homeopathic remedy. Hahnemann was treating a girl with Belladonna, an epidemic of Scarlet Fever swept through the town, and she did not contract the disease. We now have much more evidence of the efficacy of homeopathic remedies for prevention of epidemics, and if you are at risk then I suggest you discuss Homeoprophylaxis with a qualified Homeopath. Commonly nosodes (remedies made from the disease) are used, but the Simillimum- the remedy with the closest symptom picture to the disease- like in Hahnemann’s Scarlet Fever case May also be used.
If you are concerned about a health condition at any time in New Zealand you can call Healthline to speak to a registered nurse who can advise you if you need to seek further help.
If you need help from a qualified Homeopath you can contact www.homeopathy247.com at any hour of the day or night and be connected with a Homeopath from somewhere around the world.