More young children die from Strep A infection

Health officials are understood to have seen a slight rise in cases of Strep A, which can cause scarlet fever.

A thermometer
A thermometer

More young children have died after contracting Strep A infection, taking the total to four.

Health officials confirmed a youngster from St John’s School in Ealing, west London, had died from the bacterial infection, while the parents of a four-year-old boy from Buckinghamshire confirmed he had died from Strep A.

It comes after a pupil from Victoria primary school in Penarth, four miles south of Cardiff, also died.

Last week, a six-year-old died after an outbreak of the same infection at a school in Surrey.

Health officials are understood to have seen a slight rise in cases of Strep A, which can cause scarlet fever, though deaths and serious complications from the infection are rare.

Dr Yimmy Chow, health protection consultant at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said of the Ealing case: “We are extremely saddened to hear about the death of a child at St John’s Primary School, and our thoughts are with their family, friends and the school community.

“Working with Ealing Council public health team, we have provided precautionary advice to the school community to help prevent further cases and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

“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.

“In rare incidences, it can be a severe illness and 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.”

The four-year-old from Buckinghamshire has been named locally as Muhammad Ibrahim Ali.

The Bucks Free Press newspaper said he died at his home in High Wycombe on November 14 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

A statement from his school said: “Ibrahim was a friendly boy who loved coming to Oakridge School.

“He had lots of energy and was always active. He particularly loved being outdoors in forest school.

“Ibrahim was kind and loved to help his friends. He was constantly smiling. We are one big family at Oakridge and will miss him terribly.

“The school has been working closely with the (UK) Health Security Agency, who have done a thorough risk assessment of the school, and we have been following their advice in order to keep everyone safe.

“We have informed parents and been told by medical professionals that the most common infections caused by Group A streptococcus are mild and anything more serious, whilst devastating, is extremely rare.

“We are advising parents to monitor their children for symptoms and to go to the GP if worried. We have deep cleaned the classrooms.”

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.

Scarlet fever is caused by Strep A and mostly affects young children but is easily treated with antibiotics.

According to the NHS website, the first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands.

A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later which starts on the chest and stomach, then spreads.

A white coating also appears on the tongue which peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in little bumps (often called “strawberry tongue”).

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