A child has died in the UK following a suspected infection linked to Group A Streptococcus (GAS), the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed. It takes the total number of children to die following an infection linked to Strep A to 16 across the UK.
The child was a pupil at Hove Park School in Sussex. The UKHSA confirmed that specialist are now working with the local council following the death.
Health protection consultant with the UKHSA South East, Dr Rachael Hornigold, said the organisation would “implement health actions” following the tragic passing of the child.
“Infection with Group A Streptococcus bacterium usually causes a sore throat, scarlet fever or skin rash, and is passed by physical contact or through droplets from sneezing or coughing,” said Dr. Hornigold.
“In very rare cases, the infection can become invasive and enter parts of the body where bacteria aren’t normally found, which can be serious. We will implement public health actions, including advice to the city council and school community.”
Hove Park School has approximately 1,650 students currently enrolled at the school. It is also a mixed school for pupils aged 11 to 19.
What should I do if my child is ill?
It’s always concerning when a child is unwell. GAS infections cause various symptoms such as sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. As a parent, if you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement. Contact NHS 111 or your GP if:
- your child is getting worse
- your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
- your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
- your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38°C, or is 3 to 6 months and has a temperature of 39°C or higher
- your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
- your child is very tired or irritable
Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
- there are pauses when your child breathes
- your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
- your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake
Good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread of many bugs. By teaching your child how to wash their hands properly with soap for 20 seconds, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and keeping away from others when feeling unwell, they will be able to reduce the risk of picking up or spreading infections.
Dr Colin Brown, Deputy Director, UKHSA, said even though serious illness is rare, it is important parents are vigilant and know what to look out for.
“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 (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. 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.”