THREE more children have died from deadly invasive Strep A in Northern Ireland and Wales – taking the tragic UK total to 19.
New data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows 16 children under 18 have died of Strep A in England since September.
Scarlet fever – caused by the Strep A infection – continues to soar in England as 7,750 cases of the bug have been recorded since this September.
This compares to just 2,538 cases at the same point last year, UKHSA data suggests.
Although cases of the bug have risen earlier this year, which could be a knock-on effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts have said.
Health officials do not believe the number of scarlet fever infections has yet peaked, suggesting more deaths are likely.
There have been 111 invasive Strep A in children aged one to four and 74 cases in children aged five to nine.
Since September, 74 people of all ages have died in England.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.
UKHSA has said there is no current evidence that a new strain is circulating and the rise in cases is most likely due to high amounts of circulating bacteria and increased social mixing,
Dr Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, said: “Scarlet fever and ‘strep throat’ will make children feel unwell, but can be easily treated with antibiotics.
“Symptoms to look out for include fever, sore throat, swollen glands, difficulty swallowing, and headache.
“Scarlet fever causes a sandpapery rash on the body and a swollen tongue.
“NHS services are under huge pressure this winter, but please visit nhs.uk, contact 111 online or your GP surgery if your child has symptoms of scarlet fever or ‘strep throat’ so they can be assessed for treatment.”
He said parents should also look out for signs their child is getting worse after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat or respiratory infection.
In Wales, a spokesman for Public Health Wales said: “Public Health Wales has confirmed it is investigating the deaths of two children as possible iGAS cases.
“Due to the risk of identification, Public Health Wales will not confirm numbers of deaths lower than five.”
However the families of seven-year-old Hanna Roap from Penarth, South Wales, and a child from Powys who has not been named, have confirmed the cause of death of both children was iGAS.
Meanwhile, parents are flooding NHS 111 phone lines in a panic about the Strep A outbreak in kids
The increase in concern from Brits comes as nurses up and down the country have today taken to the picket line to strike in a deal over pay.
Viruses like flu, Covid and RSV are continuing to circulate and the data shows that the number of patients with flu in general and the use of acute beds every day last week – is up a third on the week before.
Patients experiencing the most serious illness from flu was also up, with 87 patients in critical care beds – almost 50 per cent higher than the previous week.
Data from the UKHSA previously confirmed that cases of flu were up and have urged those eligible to come forward for their flu jabs.
Parents are also being asked to take up the offer of the flu nasal spray vaccine at school sessions or in community catch-up clinics for their children.
It’s especially important, as the NHS says that viral infections such as the flu, put you at higher risk of Strep A infections.
Guidance states that Strep A infections spread by close contact with an infected person.
They can then be passed on through coughs and sneezes or from a wound.
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.
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