Three more Strep A deaths as total hits 19 – and cases of scarlet fever soar
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 previously said.
However, 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.
And since September, 74 people of all ages have died in England.
The surge in cases is putting a huge strain on NHS 111 and pharmacists, with shortages of penicillin and other antibiotics reported across the UK.
Just today, pharmacists in England have been given new powers to prescribe an alternative to penicillin in order to treat Strep A as supplies of the drug go from bad to worse
In Wales, a spokesman for Public Health Wales said: “Public Health Wales has confirmed it is investigating the deaths of two children as possible invasive Strep A 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 invasive Strep A.
Cases of the deadly bug are also circulating in high numbers in other European countries, including France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, according to the WHO.
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.
What are the symptoms of invasive group A Strep?
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 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.
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.