Strep A death toll in kids hits 15 as outbreak surges – the 4 signs all parents must know | The SunDecember 8, 2022
THERE have been 15 deaths of invasive Group Strep A in the last two and half months, data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) states.
Experts have warned that there is a sharp increase in infections, with higher numbers than usual being reported.
The UKHSA report states there have been 15 deaths between September 12 and November 28 – six more than were previously announced.
The report does not state where each death has occurred and where cases have been detected.
However, it was previously announced that children had died in Belfast, Cardiff, Hampshire, London, Surrey and Buckinghamshire.
Medics said cases of the illness have been 'particularly high compared to levels reported in the last peak season preceding the Covid-19 pandemic – and substantially higher than the past two years'.
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Group A Streptococcus — Streptococcus pyogenes — is a bacteria that can cause mild illness.
This can include sore throats and skin infections, alongside tonsillitis, cellulitis, and scarlet fever, which is flu-like and tends to occur in children – it can be serious if not treated swiftly with antibiotics.
In rare cases, the bacteria can trigger invasive Group Strep A disease, which can prove life-threatening and even fatal.
Cases of Strep A have risen across the UK, so too have more serious cases of both scarlet fever and invasive Group A Strep disease.
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The reported stated that so far this season, since September 12, there have been 60 deaths across all age groups with invasive Strep.
This includes 13 children under the age of 18.
The symptoms of Strep A you need to know
There are four key signs of Group Strep A to watch out for, according to the NHS. These are:
- A fever (meaning a high temperature above 38°C)
- Severe muscle aches
- Localised muscle tenderness
- Redness at the site of a wound
The NHS says that when it comes to scarlet fever, your child will most likely start off with cold-like symptoms.
The signs will include:
- high temperature
- sore throat
- swollen neck glands
- rash 12-48 hours after initial symptoms. This usually starts on the tummy and then spreads
- white coating on the tongue
- red cheeks
UKHSA said that in the 2017/18 season, which is deemed to be the last high Strep A season, there were 355 deaths in total, including that of 27 children.
They added that there is no evidence to suggest there is a new strain circulating, or that there has been any increase in antibiotics resistance.
Medics said that seasons with very high cases occur every three to four years.
"But social distancing measures implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic may have interrupted this cycle and explain the current increase being observed," the report stated.
Dr Colin Brown, Deputy Director, UKHSA said both scarlet fever and Strep throat are common childhood illnesses that can be treated with antibiotics.
He urged parents to contact 111 or their GP if your child is struggling with symptoms.
'NO CAUSE FOR ALARM'
"Very rarely, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause more serious illness called invasive Group A strep.
"We know that this is concerning for parents, but I want to stress that while we are seeing an increase in cases in children, this remains very uncommon.
"There a lots of winter bugs circulating that can make your child feel unwell, that mostly aren’t cause for alarm.
"However, make sure you talk to a health professional if your child is getting worse after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat or respiratory infection – look out for signs such as a fever that won’t go down, dehydration, extreme tiredness and difficulty breathing," he added.
Parents have been warning others of the signs of the illness, as children have been battling the bug.
Mum Jenna Higham said her little boy George's screams will 'haunt her forever' after he was found to have Strep A.
Seven-year-old Hanna Roap is among those youngsters who have lost their lives.
What started as a mild cough rapidly deteriorated and she tragically died within 24-hours.
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Meanwhile, another dad told how he took his five-year-old Stella-Lily McCorkindale to A&E three times before she died of Strep A.
And another mum has shared photos of her little boy to highlight how fast Strep A strikes after her little one was diagnosed with the illness, as well as scarlet fever and pneumonia.
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