What Is Strep A And What Are The Symptoms You Need To Know?

There has been a string of child deaths as a result of the infection.
Strep A is normally easy to treat but can lead to more dangerous conditions
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Strep A is normally easy to treat but can lead to more dangerous conditions

Parents are being urged to be aware of the signs of Strep A following a string of child deaths from the disease.

Downing Street has also told parents be on the “lookout” for symptoms with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warning that the figures for the disease are higher this year than the last two.

The latest figures today (Monday December 5) show that a seventh child has died of Strep A in recent weeks – since September six other children have lost their lives to the disease.

The UKHSA is acting to advise schools on how to combat outbreaks of the disease.

Strep A is normally easy to treat with a course of antibiotics, with Dr Yimmy Chow, health protection consultant at the UKHSA, advising: “Group A streptococcal infections usually result in mild illness, and information has been shared with parents and staff about the signs and symptoms.

“These include a sore throat, fever and minor skin infections and can be treated with a full course of antibiotics from the GP.”

Strep A is a relatively common bacterial infection which causes strep throat, tonsillitis and scarlet fever.

According to the NHS, symptoms for Strep A include:

  • pain when swallowing
  • fever
  • swollen tonsils with white patches
  • swollen neck glands
  • a high temperature
  • a skin rash

However, Strep AS can also, in rare cases, lead to a severe condition called invasive Group A Strep (IGAS).

IGAS occurs when the bacteria bypasses a body’s natural defences and can cause Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome – which can be deadly.

Warning signs of invasive disease include:

  • fever (a high temperature above 38C)
  • severe muscle aches

The UK Health Security Agency advises: “Anyone with high fever, severe muscle aches, pain in one area of the body and unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea should call NHS 111 and seek medical help immediately.”