VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Strep throat cases are soaring across the country including here in Virginia. While the illness is common in children, health experts are warning they’re seeing unusual symptoms that could put kids at risk for dangerous complications.

It is normal to see strep during the winter and spring, mostly in children ages 5-15, however, last week the Virginia Department of Health reported the highest number of cases in five years.

Usual symptoms include a sore or scratchy throat, pain when swallowing, red or swollen tonsils and fever. Some, however, are reporting unusual symptoms.

“In the younger kids a lot of times it’s their stomach that bothers them and so that doesn’t typically ring a bell to say ‘oh I need to go and have the throat evaluated,'” said Dr. Trissana Emdadi with Patient First.

What’s more, Dr. Emdadi told WAVY, the virulent strain circulating sometimes requires a second round of antibiotics.

Another concern across the country is invasive strep infections. Health officials in Illinois issued an alert about the dangerous rise in invasive strep after five children died.

This graph from VDH shows a troubling trend of invasive strep here in the commonwealth as well.

VDH Reportable Disease Monthly Surveillance Report

“That’s the importance of coming in and having just a quick strep test done, said Dr. Emdadi. “We have you say ‘Ahhh’ and we just swipe around the back of the throat at the tonsils and we take it to the lab and it’s just a quick test to see if it’s strep or not.”

Doctors urge you to get your child tested as soon as you notice symptoms and especially if you see severe symptom like scarlet fever. That’s a rash that looks like sunburn.

If undiagnosed, strep can lead to problems with the heart, brain, and joints, but when treated strep is usually cleared quickly and kids can return to school 24 hours after starting an antibiotic.