This year, as you’re running up and down the hallowed halls of Target trying to keep your kids from trashing the joint while you scratch off endless back-to-school -items from your three-page-long list, I have one more item that you should seriously consider purchasing: an at-home strep test kit.
Listen, I’m not one of those helicopter parents who is secretly creating a bubble wrapped universe for my children to be bored to tears in. And I am definitely not one of those moms who runs around screaming about vaccinations or essential oils. But I am of those moms who knows that when it comes to scary AF health issues that pose a danger to my kids, I need to warn my mom tribe.
Last school year, my family was asked to donate time and resources to help support a local community family. This family of five, a husband and wife with three kids, had to deal with the unthinkable: a flesh-eating bacteria. The dad, who was and still is, the family breadwinner, had come down with an infection that is commonly known as strep A. His, unbelievably, morphed into a flesh-eating bacteria that threatened his life and left him struggling in the ICU while his family and our community prayed for his health.
And if that story seems far-fetched, then consider this; strep A, which is commonly known as that same strep throat that our kids pass around like a MASH note in class during the school year, has been wreaking havoc with a horrific side effect called PANDAS, which stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. Some kids who get strep throat also end up with PANDAS, which can express itself as everything as hair-raising as OCD, severe depression, and behavioral regression and so many more awful symptoms.
I would never have known this if my son’s best friend hadn’t gotten sick with strep throat this past spring. His mother, who already knew the dangers of strep, pulled her son from school and extracurricular activities. She then emailed everyone in her son’s social circle, including his classroom teacher, and sounded the alarm that her son was showing signs of strep.
When I first saw her email, I thought, “Seriously, lady? Strep may as well be the common cold, amirite?” but my ignorance and arrogance were soon put in place when I saw the horrific health, financial, social, and emotional fallout from that flesh-eating bacteria that threatened to upend one family’s life. My school mom friend who sent out the red flags about strep throat possibly being spread around was enough to scare me into looking into preventing strep in my own kids.
First, and as always, I am stressing the finer points of always washing hands, never sharing drinks, and coughing and sneezing into an arm and not a hand. My kids roll their eyes, but that preventative measure, which costs nothing, could be the difference between a life-alerting sickness and a mild irritation.
Next, I went to Amazon, and I ordered an at-home test kit that specifically looks for strep A, which is the villainous culprit to my story. For around $35 you can get a reliable test kit that will take a swab of your spit and tell you with certainty whether or not the yucky symptoms you or your child are experiencing are due to strep A.
And if that test comes back positive? Keep your child at home. Seriously. Strep A may be an inconvenient and painful illness that dries up quickly but for many people, the side effects can be downright deadly.
If you think your child may be ill, call your family doctor and take the necessary precautionary steps to prevent spreading this nasty germ. In the meantime, throw $35 at a test kit and hope you never have to use it.