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Strep A cases in your area as hundreds of infections are reported across the UK



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Parents have been warned to be on the lookout for symptoms following an increase in infections caused by the strep A bacteria.

At least nine children have died with an aggressive form of the bacteria in recent weeks, while cases of scarlet fever caused by strep A infections have skyrocketed.

Concerns have grown as cases are higher than usual for the time of year.

Infections have been found across the country, with large concentrations of Strep A in south-east England, including the north-east and north-west.

Experts from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said they are investigating whether the rise in cases is due to lack of immunity due to the Covid lockdown.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb told GB News on Tuesday that children in schools with strep A infections could be given prophylactic antibiotics.

Mr Gibb said: “Lord Markham said in the House of Lords yesterday that the UK Health and Safety Executive is monitoring the situation and considering these types of issues in schools where there are infections.

“This is an ongoing situation, UKHSA is very closely involved with those schools and they will provide further advice at a later date.

“But it could be an option for those specific schools where there are infections.”

According to UKHSA data, there have been 2.3 cases of invasive group strep A infection (IGAS) – the most serious form of infection linked to strep A – per 100,000 children aged one to four in England this year, compared with a pre-epidemic average of 0.5. Season (2017 to 2019).

There were also 1.1 cases per 100,000 children aged five to nine, compared to a pre-pandemic average of 0.3 (2017 to 2019).

There were 510 cases of iGAS between 12 September and 20 November, the latest observation period for which UKHSA data is available.

Looking at the number of deaths in England, the last time there was an intensive period of strep A infections was in 2017/18, when there were four deaths among children under 10 in the equivalent period.

Between 12 September and 20 November there were 4,622 cases of scarlet fever, which spread across England despite a large rash in the north-west with 957 cases.

861 cases of scarlet fever were reported in the last week of November alone.

Health officials are urging parents to contact NHS 111 or their GP if their child is unwell, feeding or eating much less than usual, has a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration.

They should also seek help if their baby is less than three months old and has a temperature of 38C, or is older than three months with a temperature of 39C or higher.

A very tired or irritable baby is also a red flag.

The government has tried to play down concerns about the infection, though it has asked parents to be vigilant about checking their children for symptoms.

No 10 said the NHS was prepared and the government was not aware of any current shortages of the antibiotic amoxicillin, which is used to treat bacterial infections.

When asked about the recent rise in cases, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “We are seeing a higher number of Group A strep cases this year than usual.

“The bacteria we know causes a mild infection that is easily treated with antibiotics, and in rare circumstances it can enter the bloodstream and cause serious illness.

“It’s still uncommon, but it’s important that parents are looking for the signs.

“But the NHS is well prepared to deal with such situations, working with the UK Health Security Agency.”

She said any parents who are concerned should contact the NHS.

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