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 – bringing the UK’s tragic total to 19.

New data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that 16 children under the age of 18 have died from Strep A in England since September.

Three more Strep A deaths were recorded in the UK, bringing the total to 19

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Three more Strep A deaths were recorded in the UK, bringing the total to 19Credit: Alamy
The map above shows the areas where deaths from Strep A have occurred in the UK

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The map above shows the areas where deaths from Strep A have occurred in the UK

Scarlet fever – caused by Strep A infection – continues to rise in England as 7,750 cases of the bug have been recorded since this September.

That compares to just 2,538 cases at the same time last year, UKHSA data suggests.

Although cases of the bug rose earlier this year in what 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 peaked, suggesting more deaths are likely.

There were 111 invasive cases of strep A in children aged 1 to 4 years and 74 cases in children aged 5 to 9 years.

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 as shortages of penicillin and other antibiotics are reported across the UK.

Only today in England pharmacists have been given new powers to prescribe an alternative to penicillin to treat Strep A as the supply of the drug continues to shrink

In Wales, a spokesman for Public Health Wales said: “Public Health Wales has confirmed that 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 any deaths below five.”

However, the families of seven-year-old Hanna Roap, from Penarth, South Wales, and an unnamed child, from Powys, have confirmed the cause of both children’s deaths was invasive Strep A.

Cases of the deadly bug are also circulating in large numbers in other European countries, including France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden, according to the WHO.

Meanwhile, parents panic over the Strep A outbreak in children, flooding the NHS 111 phone lines

Britons’ growing concern comes as nurses across the country went on picket line today to reach an agreement on pay.

Viruses such as influenza, Covid and RSV continue to circulate and the data shows that the number of patients with influenza in general and the daily use of acute care beds has increased by a third in the past week compared to the previous week.

The number of patients with the most severe flu also rose, with 87 patients in intensive care beds – almost 50 percent more than in the previous week.

Data from the UKHSA has previously confirmed that cases of flu have been rising and has urged those entitled to come in for their flu shot.

Parents are also asked to take advantage of the offer of flu nasal spray vaccination for their children at school events or in communal catch-up clinics.

It’s particularly important as the NHS says viral infections like the flu put you at higher risk of contracting Strep A infections.

Guidelines state that Strep A infections are spread through close contact with an infected person.

They can then be transmitted through coughing and sneezing or through a wound.

What are the symptoms of invasive group A streptococcus?

According to the NHS, there are four key signs of group strep A to look out for. These are:

  1. Fever (ie a high temperature above 38°C)
  2. Severe muscle pain
  3. Localized muscle tenderness
  4. Redness at the site of a wound

The invasive version of the disease occurs when the bacteria breach the body’s immune defenses.

This can happen if you are already unwell or have a weakened immune system.

Group A Streptococcus – Streptococcus pyogenes – is a bacterium that can cause mild illness.

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These include sore throats and skin infections, as well as tonsillitis, cellulitis and scarlet fever, which is flu-like and occurs in children – it can be serious if not treated quickly with antibiotics.

In rare cases, the bacteria can cause invasive streptococcal A disease, which can be life-threatening and even fatal.

https://www.the-sun.com/health/6925017/strep-a-deaths-increase/ Three more Strep A deaths as total hits 19 – and cases of scarlet fever soar

Emma James

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