B.C. warns number of invasive Group A strep cases at 20-year high after Victoria teen’s sudden death

CHEK

WATCH: A warning has been issued by British Columbia’s top doctor about an alarming spike in cases of a potentially fatal strain of strep. The numbers of the invasive disease are the highest they’ve been in 20 years. It comes as a Vancouver Island family mourns the loss of their 13-year-old daughter who died unexpectedly after contracting the disease. Isabelle Raghem reports.

A family relative of 13 -year-old Robin Carey says the teen had dreams of playing softball in the Olympics one day.

“You don’t expect anything like this especially with an athletic 13-year old, ” says the teen’s second cousin Kim Magi. “We just thought she had the flu and she just needed a couple of days off.”

Just a few days after contracting strep, Carey died suddenly Friday. Island Health confirms Carey had an invasive strain of Group A streptococcus bacteria.

Her family told CHEK News she died just a few hours after getting to the hospital.

“It’s a devastating loss and completely unexpected and tragic loss for the family,” adds Magi.

The province says while this strain is rare, the number of cases has been growing at an alarming rate in B.C.

“We have seen in the last two years in B.C. an increase of people who have had more severe disease with Group A strep and it can be fatal,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer.

From 2009-2014, there were under 200 cases of invasive Group A Strep each year. In 2016, there were over 300 and in the most recent year, 2017, there were more than 400 cases. It’s the highest rate since 1997 when the province started tracking the disease.

“That is worrisome,” adds Dr. Henry. “It’s often associated with more severe influenza seasons too.”

In 2017 14 people died in B.C. from the strain of strep. The groups most affected are those over 65 or infants.

“So a teenager getting sick and dying from this is very unusual,” says Dr. Henry.

The cause of Carey’s death has not yet been confirmed by the coroner’s office.

“[Her dad] loved her so much and that’s the thing it is his best friend,” says Matt Morrison, a colleague of Robin Carey’s dad, Roy Carey.

Morrison launched an online fundraising page that has already raised more than $15,000.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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