Following the news that eight children have now died from the Strep A infection, the UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) has revealed that Yorkshire has the most cases in the country, with 75 cases recorded in the region in the last ten weeks.
Rates across the region are four times higher than usual, with doctors urging parents to look out for the symptoms among their children if they appear seriously ill.
610 cases of scarlet fever, which is caused by the same bacteria, were also recorded in the region during the same time period. Both infections are caused by the bacteria known as group A streptococci, which can cause strep throat, scarlet fever, and if it enters the bloodstream, Strep A – otherwise known as invasive Group A strep.
Dr. Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, said: “We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year than usual. The bacteria usually causes a mild infection producing sore throats or scarlet fever that can be easily treated with antibiotics. In very rare circumstances, this bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness – called invasive Group A strep.
“This is still uncommon; however, it is important that parents are on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor as quickly as possible so that their child can be treated and we can stop the infection becoming serious. Make sure you talk to a health professional if your child is showing signs of deteriorating after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.”
Here’s the list of areas affected by Strep A, according to the UKHSA:
- Yorkshire and the Humber: 75 (1.4 per 100,000)
- North East: 26 (1)
- North West: 74 (1)
- South East: 85 (1)
- South West: 49 (0.9)
- West Midlands: 51 (0.9)
- East Midlands: 40 (0.8)
- London: 71 (0.8)
- East of England: 39 (0.6)
Infection rates have risen the most in children aged one to four, while cases in those aged between five to nine have tripled.
Scarlet fever cases are also four times higher than average this autumn.
Deaths from the infection are considered rare. Most cases are mild and improve with proper treatment, which typically includes a course of antibiotics.
The UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) chief medical adviser, Dr. Susan Hopkins, said of the rise in cases: “We are concerned, and concerned enough to ensure that we wanted to make the public aware of the signs and symptoms that they should watch out for and of course to alert clinicians to prescribe antibiotics for these conditions.”
“We are back to normal social mixing and the patterns of diseases that we are seeing at the moment are out of sync with the normal seasons, as people mix back to normal and move around and pass infections on.”
Symptoms of Strep A to watch out for are:
- high fever
- severe muscle aches
- pain in one area of the body
- redness at the site of a wound
- vomiting or diarrhea
The UK Health Security Agency has issued advice for parents on their blog here.
[Featured image: Unsplash]