Six children and 42 Ontarians aged 16+ died between October 1 and December 31 2023 after contracting invasive Group A Streptococcal Disease (iGAS). According to Public Health Ontario data, three of the children were between two and four years old, two were between five and nine years old, and one newborn under the age of one year. The report, released January 11, shows these six children make up half the pediatric deaths in the 2022/23 fiscal year. Nineteen deaths were people between 16 and 64 years old, and 23 seniors. Cases of the invasive strep doubled from November to December in minors under the age of 18. In the October 1 to December 31 period there were 540 cases reported, with 74% hospitalized. There were 894 cases of iGAS reported in Ontario between October 2022 and April 30, 2023.Health Canada told CTV News Wednesday the number of cases of iGAS is higher in Canada now than before the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in children under the age of 15. In 2023, there were 4,600 cases reported and 3,236 in 2019. The infection is caused by bacteria spread through contact with the nose, mouth or other exposed areas. While strep throat can commonly be treated with antibiotics and have symptoms such as fever and skin infections, there is the risk of it entering the bloodstream or deep tissues. It then is deemed invasive and can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicemia. Medical care providers in Ontario were alerted in June there was an “increasing trend” in iGAS and to “be alert” for symptoms, per CP24. Ontario Associate Chief Medical Officer Barbara Yaffe wrote in a memo to hospitals and childcare facilities “rates of illness are highest among those aged 0 to 4 and 65 years of age and older.”“Others at increased risk include those with immunocompromising conditions, chickenpox and people experiencing homelessness or who use injection drugs,” she wrote.