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At least 15 children have now died of invasive Strep A, official figures released by The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show.
Schools and childcare facilities across the country have been put on high alert as the Agency expressed concern over the rising cases of Group A Streptococcus infections.
The greater the number of infections, the severity of cases will rise accordingly, Dr Elizabeth Whittaker, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London, said.
Deputy Director of UKHSA, Dr Colin Brown, in a press release, stated: “The bacteria usually causes a mild infection producing sore throats or scarlet fever that can be easily treated with antibiotics.”
“In very rare circumstances, this bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness – called invasive Group A strep (iGAS).”
Parents were told not to panic as iGAS is extremely rare.
But he has advised to keep children under close watch and see a doctor if they showed symptoms or their health condition worsened.Common symptoms of strep A include: flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, swollen glands, severe muscle aches, nausea and vomiting. Strep throat or tonsillitis: Sore throat. Scarlet fever: A rash that feels rough, like sandpaper in scarlet fever. Impetigo: Scabs and sores. Cellulitis: pain and swelling. Source: www.nhs.uk
The illness is usually contagious in nature and spreads through mucus and touch. Sound hand and respiratory hygiene have also been promoted in the Agency’s recent blog post.
A doctor of paediatric infectious disease and NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer at King’s College London, Nathalie MacDermott stressed the importance of “prompt treatment of Scarlet Fever and Strep throat” with antibiotics.
It would “reduce the chances of a child developing invasive Group A Strep and reduce the chances of the infection spreading to other children at school or household members,” she further added.
Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Bristol, Adam Finn attributed the unusual rise of Group A streptococcus (GAS) infections to normalised social mixing after lifting the covid restrictions.
Professor Finn pointed out that GAS is overlooked because “meningitis is a particular disease of concern to parents” but it “rarely causes meningitis”.
He said: “However, it causes as much serious disease as other meningitis-causing bacteria. For this reason, we badly need to progress work on developing a vaccine to prevent GAS infection.”
The prime minister’s official spokesman said the government is aware of the situation and “the NHS is well prepared to deal with situations like this, working with the UK Health Security Agency.”
The UKHSA suggested contacting NHS 111 or a local GP in case of emergency.