Nine children have been confirmed to have died from Strep A in recent weeks, and the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed an increase in infections.
The latest confirmed death was a student attending a Belfast primary school who died on Monday after being diagnosed with Strep A. A statement from Black Mountain Primary School said the female student fell seriously ill last week and was treated at the Royal Belfast Hospital. Sick Children in Intensive Care.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacterium causes a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease, as in the Belfast case.
Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a common bacterium. Indeed, most of us carry it in our throat and on our skin, and according to UKHSA it does not always result in illness. However, GAS causes a range of infections, some mild and some more serious.
The most serious infections associated with GAS come from invasive group A strep known as iGAS. Health officials explain that these infections are caused by bacteria getting into areas of the body where they normally don’t, such as the lungs or bloodstream. In rare cases, an iGAS infection can be fatal.
While still relatively uncommon, there has been an increase in iGAS cases and deaths this year, especially in children under the age of 10.
The UKHSA says GAS is spread through close contact with an infected person and can be transmitted through coughing and sneezing or through a wound.
While some people can have the bacteria in their body without feeling well or showing any signs of infection and can infect others, the risk of spreading it is much greater when a person is sick.
talk to Weather forecast On Tuesday morning, UKHSA’s deputy director, Dr Colin Brown, suggested that the lack of mix due to the Covid pandemic, and changes in mix and susceptibility in children, have likely “pushed the normal scarlet fever season forward” since spring. Christmas side.
He explained that the UK is witnessing “more infections than we would normally see at this time of year, such as scarlet fever”.
To the reassurance of parents, Dr Brown told the publisher that “the information we have at this time is that there is no change” in circulating strains of Strep A bacteria making them more severe.
“There’s nothing particularly new or new about the bacteria causing infections that we’re seeing right now,” he said.
“We’re seeing more infections than we would normally see at this time of year, for example causing scarlet fever.”
UKSHA recommends maintaining hand and respiratory hygiene to slow the spread of infection and best protect children.
“Teaching your child to properly wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, use a tissue for coughing and sneezing, and stay away from others when they are not feeling well will be able to reduce their risk of getting it. or spread, infections,” he writes.