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.
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Dr Belinda Griffith’s comments in the UK news: