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Is it Strep A, a cold, flu or Covid? The key symptoms all parents need to know

CASES of Strep A have increased in recent weeks with many children coming down with the illness.

It was last night revealed that another child has died in the outbreak.

If your little one is feeling poorly then it’s important to know when it could be a sign of something serious

A 12-year-old secondary school pupil became the sixteenth casualty, local health authorities said.

The deaths include that of five-year-old Stella-Lily McCorkindale in Belfast and seven-year-old Hanna Roap in Wales.

Medics have said that this specific infection is both common and treatable.

“In fact, the majority of children will recover on their own without the need for antibiotics,” experts at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said.

They said: “During any winter period colds, flus and bugs are widespread. But with the recent increase in Strep A cases, it’s no wonder that parents are very worried.”

Here we take a look at the signs of Strep A, colds, flu and Covid to help you understand your child’s symptoms.

If you are worried about the symptoms you should speak to your GP and in the event of an emergency, call 999 or visit your nearest A&E.

Strep A

There are four key signs of Group Strep A to watch out for, according to the NHS. These are:

  1. A fever (meaning a high temperature above 38°C)
  2. Severe muscle aches
  3. Localised muscle tenderness
  4. Redness at the site of a wound

The invasive version of the disease happens when the bacteria break through the body’s immune defences.

This can happen if you’re already feeling unwell or have an immune system that’s weakened.

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.


In most cases, you can treat a cold without seeing a GP and the NHS says you should start to feel better within a couple of weeks.

The symptoms are usually the same in both adults and children, but experts say they could last a little bit longer in kids.

The NHS says they can come on gradually and will often include the following:

  1. a blocked or runny nose
  2. sore throat
  3. headaches
  4. muscle aches
  5. coughs
  6. sneezing
  7. raised temperature
  8. pressure in your ears and face
  9. loss of taste and smell


Figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) found that flu hospital and intensive care admissions have increased in the last week.

The highest positivity rate has been seen in those aged 15-44, with the under fives and those aged 75-84 being the highest group of hospital admissions.

Vaccine uptake in kids aged two and three is below the last two years, the figures show.

Parents have been urged to take up the offer of the flu nasal spray vaccine at school sessions or in community catch-up clinics.

It’s especially important, as the NHS says that viral infections such as the flu, put you at higher risk of Strep A infections.

When it comes to symptoms of flu, they may at first, seem like a common cold.

The NHS list the symptoms for flu as follows:

  1. sudden high temperature
  2. aching body
  3. feeling tired or exhausted
  4. a dry cough
  5. sore throat
  6. headache
  7. difficulty sleeping
  8. loss of appetite
  9. diarrhoea or tummy pain
  10. feeling or being sick
  11. less active (specifically children)
  12. pain in the ear (specifically children)


New data from the ZOE Health Study states that there are ten symptoms Brits are currently experiencing.

They are:

  1. a sore throat
  2. a runny nose
  3. a blocked nose
  4. sneezing
  5. a cough without phlegm
  6. a headache
  7. a cough with phlegm
  8. a hoarse voice
  9. muscle aches and pains
  10. an altered sense of smell.

These reflect the ailments of those logging their symptoms from the 30 days up to December 5, the experts said.

The symptom figures from ZOE come as fresh data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) states that 1.1million Brits tested positive for Covid in the week ending November 26.

This is up from 1.03million last week, the experts said.

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