Health & Fitness

Map reveals scarlet fever hotspots – as 36 children die from Strep A

THESE maps show where cases of scarlet fever and invasive Strep A are most prevalent across the country.

London and the North West have seen the highest number of scarlet fever cases in the last season, data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows.

The maps above show where cases of scarlet fever and Strep A have been most prevalent across England

That’s while the South East and the South West have seen high levels of invasive Strep A.

The update comes as 36 children have now died from contracting Strep A across the UK.

On Wednesday, Public Health Scotland (PHS) said a third child under the age of 10 had died after contracting the killer bug.

However, cases of the bacteria may have peaked as no new deaths have been recorded in the last week in England.

But medics at the UKHSA say the recent data should be interpreted with caution, as further notifications of illness may be reported.

In the 2017 to 2018 season, the last high season of the illness, there were 355 deaths in total, including 27 deaths in children under 18.

The UKHSA report states that so far this season, there have been 211 deaths across all age groups in England.

This figure includes 30 children under 18 in England.

However, at present, the majority of cases are in those over the age of 45.

In most cases, Strep A bacteria causes mild illnesses, but in rare cases it can trigger invasive Group Strep A disease.

These bacteria are also the cause of strep throat. The bacteria sometimes make a toxin (poison), which causes a rash — the ‘scarlet’ of scarlet fever, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US states.

The UKHSA report states that there have been higher than expected cases of scarlet fever this year.

A total of 38,429 notifications of scarlet fever have been logged from September 12 to January 15.

What are the symptoms of invasive group Strep A disease?

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

There was a pre-Christmas peak of 10,060 cases up to December 11, this is compared to an average of 3,237 for the same time in the previous five years.

However, increased health seeking behaviour as a result of national alerts is likely to have contributed to the increased reports, the report states.

The last peak season for scarlet fever notifications was 2017 to 2018 when 30,768 reports were received across the entire season.

Dr Derren Ready, UKHSA incident director, said: “Although the number of scarlet fever notifications we are seeing each week is falling, the bacteria that cause the infection are still circulating at high levels.

“It’s also not unusual to have a dip in the number of cases before the spring, so we could see infections rise again in the coming months.”

The expert urged people to contact NHS 111 or your GP if you suspect you or your child have scarlet fever – with symptoms such as fever, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and a sandpapery rash.

“Early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of a more serious infection and transmission to others.

“Children should stay off school or nursery and adults should stay off work for 24 hours after antibiotics have started.”

Dr Ready added that it’s not too late to take up the free flu and Covid jabs and The Sun has been urging readers to ‘Do the Double’ in our latest campaign to help protect the nation.

“We know that group A streptococcus infections can be more serious when combined with another infection including flu.

“Most winter illnesses can be managed at home and NHS.UK has information to help parents look after children with mild illnesses,” Dr Ready added.

Source of data and images: thesun

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