The NT has recorded its highest rate of Invasive Strep A cases compared to previous years, rising well over the average number.
NT Health recorded a total 170 cases of the bacterial infection for 2022 – including 6 deaths of people all over the age of 50.
While the virus is sweeping across the nation, cases of Invasive Strep A in the Territory has been higher than the rest of the country for years.
The infection can be present on the skin and throat, before spreading into the blood causing serious symptoms.
These include looking and feeling unwell, fever, chills, shakes, and can further present with headaches, stiffness in the neck, vomiting, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Professor at Infectious Diseases Royal Darwin Hospital Bart Currie says Invasive Strep A can manifest rapidly.
“It can happen within a day, they can go from just having a couple of sores to really unwell and requiring very important get antibiotics at that stage, ”he says.
“It can spread to the lungs or joint involvement where they get swollen joints.”
On average the NT records anywhere between 60 and 85 cases a year, and with 15 cases already recorded for 2023, Professor Currie says the Territory is set to have a big year ahead.
“We’re on track to have another year where we have more cases on average than previous years.”
One cause of the surge in Invasive Strep A cases is due to high levels of travel across the country, with people being exposed to and infected with bacteria brought in by all the movement of people.
Professor Currie says general hygiene practices like washing your hands and taking daily showers will help stop the spread.
“Those are very important to basically dilute the presence of the bacteria on the skin, and when there’s less bacteria around then there will be less spread.”