Cases of Strep A infections amongst children are on the rise and tragically at least 9 children are known to have died in the UK as a result.
What is Strep A?
Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a common bacteria. Lots of us carry it in our throats and on our skin and it doesn’t always result in illness. However, GAS does cause a number of infections, some mild and some more serious.
Strep A causes infections in the skin, soft tissue and respiratory tract. It’s responsible for infections such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis, scarlet fever, impetigo and cellulitis among others.
Strep A Infections are not common but it is important for parents to lookout for symptoms and consult a GP as soon as possible for early diagnosis and treatment. Strep A infections are treatable if caught early.
Symptoms of Strep A
The first symptoms to appear are fever, chills, muscle aches and sore throat with difficulty swallowing.
Later, a rash may develop and the tongue may become red and inflamed. There may be pus on the tonsils which can be seen as white exudates. The disease affects the neck as well as it becomes tender due to the enlargement of the lymph nodes.
Small children may also present with headaches and abdominal pain in addition to the above symptoms, plus even nausea and vomiting.
How does the disease spread?
School children are in the close contact with each other and hence, they are more likely to spread the disease. In the past, GPs have been advised not to prescribe antibiotics if avoidable.
Strep A needs treatment with Penicillin or an alternative antibiotic in the case of penicillin allergy.
Children with strep A must stay at home until recovered to avoid spreading the bacteria.
How can you protect your child
It is very important for carers to stay vigilant and lookout for any symptoms that their child might have. If there is any suspicion of Strep A, make sure that the child is treated with antibiotics or an alternative just to be safe.
To limit the risk of infection, parents must not send children to school with tonsillitis, so that the spread of the disease can be reduced.
If your child develops symptoms:
- consult your GP for proper medical advice
- do not leave it until your child is seriously unwell to get treatment
Call 999 or go to A&E for emergency help if your child:
- develops difficulty breathing
- pauses between breaths
- will not wake or stay awake
- their skin, tongue or lips change colour to blue
The number of cases can be reduced if proper care is taken for Strep A and its symptoms.
We are a family friendly health clinic – if your child needs to see a GP – book online.
Dr Belinda Griffith’s comments in the UK news:
Flu cases in the UK have increased earlier this winter than usual, perhaps by over a month.
Other unpleasant respiratory infections such as RSV are also on the rise.
Information from around the world can help us predict what might type of flu season might be heading our way.
- Australia has just come to the end of a bad flu season, with a dramatic increase in flu cases and hospitalisations relative to the mild season it experienced last year, in a pattern likely to be replicated in the UK.
- In the USA, by the end of November 2022 there had already been more than 6.2 million flu cases, with 53,000 hospitalisations, and 2,900 deaths from flu.
- Across Europe as a whole, the flu season has commenced earlier than in the 4 previous seasons, and the proportion of positive tests from sentinel locations has exceeded the technical threshold for consideration as an epidemic.
Meanwhile, UK vaccination rates have so far been low: by the end of November, when the flu vaccination campaign should be largely complete, fewer than 40% of “at risk” adults under 65 had been vaccinated, fewer than 25% of healthy adults aged 50 to 64, and fewer than 30% of pregnant women.
So this winter’s flu season is likely to be more severe, and not enough people will be protected.
What can you do to keep well this winter?
Get Vaccinated . Get Tested . Get Treatment
The good news is that circulating flu strains have so far been a good match with this year’s flu vaccines. It is not too late to be vaccinated. Vaccines are still available. At this point in the season, our preferred vaccine for adults is our premium recombinant vaccine, Supemtek, which is known to be highly immunogenic.
Flu cases in children are rising but the nasal spray vaccine has so far been in restricted supply. If your child has not yet been able to obtain the flu spray, injected flu vaccines are at least as effective and should be given without further delay.
At the Fleet Street Clinic, we can test quickly and accurately for a full panel of respiratory viruses in our own laboratory. It is helpful to know whether you are suffering from flu, covid, or another circulating virus such as RSV or metapneumovirus. We can tailor treatment to the result, help you know how long symptoms will last, and can help you prevent spreading it to others – especially important over the Christmas period when socialising in high at work and amongst family and friends.
Flu is treatable with anti-viral drugs, which reduce symptoms and speed recovery. Preventive treatment for close contacts and other members of your family is also something we can help with, available from our GPs. Knowing for certain that you have a viral infection can also help avoid unnecessary antibiotic treatment.
We can also provide onsite Workplace Flu Vaccinations for companies in the UK – for more information.
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