ANOTHER child has been killed by Strep A in England as the country’s total number of deaths reaches 35.
Fresh figures released today by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed the tragic toll had climbed by one.
UKHSA said while the number of cases have been dropping week-on-week, it is continuing to monitor the situation closely.
It said the infection is still “circulating at high levels”.
There have been 37,068 cases of scarlet fever, which is caused by Strep A bacteria.
That compares to a total of 4,490 at the same point in the year during the last comparably high season in 2017 to 2018.
In most cases Strep A bacteria causes mild illnesses, but in rare cases it can trigger invasive Group Strep A disease, which has claimed the lives of 35 children.
Dr Sarah Anderson, UKHSA incident director, said: “The number of scarlet fever notifications we are seeing each week has fallen, but we are continuing to monitor the data closely as the school term gets underway, and children mix more.
“The bacteria that cause scarlet fever are still circulating at high levels so it is important that we continue to do our bit to stop the spread of germs to vulnerable groups, including the elderly by washing our hands regularly and thoroughly, catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, and keeping our homes well ventilated.
“It’s not too late to take up the free flu and Covid-19 vaccines if you’re eligible – we know that group A streptococcus infections can be more serious when combined with another infection like flu.
“Most winter illnesses can be managed at home and NHS.UK has information to help parents look after children with mild illness.
“Deaths and serious illness following group A strep infection are very rare and the infection can be easily treated with antibiotics.
“Contact NHS 111 or your GP surgery if you think your child is getting worse, for instance they are feeding or eating less than normal, are dehydrated, have a high temperature that won’t go down, are very hot and sweaty or seem more tired or irritable than normal.”
It comes after new data last week revealed four more children died from the invasive Strep A bug.
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:
- 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.
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