ANTIBIOTICS could be given to all children at schools affected by Strep A infections, a minister has confirmed.
Schools minister, Nick Gibb said health bosses were considering the move after nine children died in the recent outbreak.
Updated guidance on scarlet fever outbreaks, which are caused by Strep A, sets out how antibiotics can be used as prophylaxis but a decision is taken with local outbreak control teams (OCTs) on “a case-by-case basis”.
It added: “It can be considered in exceptional circumstances by the OCT; for example, when there are reports of severe outcomes, or hospitalisations.”
Mr Gibb told GB News: “Lord Markham said in the House of Lords yesterday that the UK Health and Security Agency are monitoring the position and are considering those kind of issues in those schools where there is an infection.
“This is an ongoing situation, the UKHSA are involved very closely with those schools and they will be providing further advice later on.
“But that may well be an option for those particular schools where there is an infection.”
However, there is currently a shortage of two antibiotics used to treat the infection.
Supply chain issues, rising costs and a global shortage of raw ingredients has sparked serious concern among pharmacy chiefs and parents.
Cases of the bug, which often masks as flu or the common-cold in the early stages, are usually high for this time of year.
Strep A bacteria can cause many health issues, most of which are mild. They can include scarlet fever, tonsillitis and, very rarely, invasive group A streptococcal disease (iGAS).
Two of the most severe examples of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis – a very rare but life-threatening infection also called ‘flesh-eating disease’ – and toxic shock syndrome.
The Covid pandemic lockdown is being blamed for the outbreak because children were shuttered away – creating a lower immunity to infections.
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