Strep A is a bacterial infection that has taken the lives of 15 children in the UK.

Medical officials are urging parents to keep a watchful eye on their children incase any symptoms of a Strep A bacterial infection appear.

What is Strep A?

Strep A – also known as Group A Streptococcus – is a bacteria commonly found on the skin or in the throat.

The bacteria can trigger the development of some health conditions, including certain infections, scarlet fever and impetigo.

According to current health data, there has been more than two cases of the viral infection per 100,000 children under the age of four.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 0.5 cases of Strep A per 100,000 children aged one to four were recorded, medical findings show.

Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, four, died in November 2022 after he contracted the bacterial infection.

A red rash appeared on the four-year-old’s back, resulting in him having to take antibiotics to treat the condition.

Muhammad’s mother Shabana Kousar is now encouraging other parents to look out for signs of Strep A as she grieves her son.

What are the symptoms of Strep A?

Symptoms of Strep A include:

  • A sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • A fine, pinkish or red body rash with a raised, sandpaper-like feel

Health research shows that the majority of people who contract Strep A bacteria will present no symptoms and are unlikely to feel ill.

Are scarlet fever and Strep A the same thing?

Scarlet fever is caused by the Strep A bacteria called Group A streptococci (Strep A). Most cases of Strep A will begin in the throat area and can sometimes develop into scarlet fever.

The Strep A bacteria usually cause a mild infection which can be treated with antibiotics.

Should I be worried about Strep A?

Dr Colin Brown, from the UK Health Security Agency (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.”

He added: “In very rare circumstances, this bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness – called invasive Group A strep (iGAS).

“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.”

He concluded: “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.”

What should I do if I am unwell?

If your or your child becomes unwell with any of the symptoms of Strep A or scarlet fever, contact your GP or call NHS 111 for advice; or 999 in an emergecy.

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