Another child under 10 is killed by Strep A as death toll from killer bug hits 36 | The Sun

ANOTHER child has been killed by Strep A as the death toll hits 36 across the UK.

A third child under the age of 10 has now died after contracting the killer bug.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) announced the tragic news today.

It comes after health officials revealed that two under-10s in Scotland have died since October 3.

The agency said this compares with between zero and 15 deaths reported during the same time period of previous years.

PHS said there is currently an earlier increase in GAS (group A streptococcal) and iGAS (invasive group A streptococcal) cases this season than in previous seasons in Scotland.

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Total cases reported to date are higher than those observed at the peaks seen in previous pre-Covid-19 pandemic years.

In the most recent week ending January 15, there have been 532 laboratory reports of GAS, a reduction from 600 the previous week.

The agency said that although increases in GAS were reported in recent weeks in Scotland, iGAS infection levels for 2022/23 have been “generally stable and similar to previous years”.

There have been 151 deaths across all age groups in England this season, the UK Health Security Agency previously said.

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In the 2017 to 2018 season, there were 355 deaths in total, including 27 deaths in children under 18.

UKHSA said while the number of cases have been dropping week-on-week, it is continuing to monitor the situation closely.

It said the infection is still "circulating at high levels".

Data from the UKHSA states that there have been 37,068 cases of scarlet fever, which is caused by Strep A bacteria.

That compares to a total of 4,490 at the same point in the year during the last comparably high season in 2017 to 2018.

What are the symptoms of invasive group Strep A disease?

There are four key signs of Group Strep A to watch out for, according to the NHS. These are:

  1. A fever (meaning a high temperature above 38°C)
  2. Severe muscle aches
  3. Localised muscle tenderness
  4. Redness at the site of a wound

The invasive version of the disease happens when the bacteria break through the body's immune defences.

This can happen if you're already feeling unwell or have an immune system that’s weakened.

In most cases Strep A bacteria causes mild illnesses, but in rare cases it can trigger invasive Group Strep A disease, which has claimed the lives of 36 children.

Dr Sarah Anderson, UKHSA incident director last week said that as the school term gets underway and more children mix, officials will continue to monitor the data.

"The bacteria that cause scarlet fever are still circulating at high levels so it is important that we continue to do our bit to stop the spread of germs to vulnerable groups, including the elderly by washing our hands regularly and thoroughly, catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, and keeping our homes well ventilated.

"It’s not too late to take up the free flu and Covid-19 vaccines if you’re eligible – we know that group A streptococcus infections can be more serious when combined with another infection like flu."

The Sun has also urged Brits to come forward and 'Do the Double', in order to protect you from illness this winter.

Dr Anderson added: "Most winter illnesses can be managed at home and NHS.UK has information to help parents look after children with mild illness.

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"Deaths and serious illness following group A strep infection are very rare and the infection can be easily treated with antibiotics.

"Contact NHS 111 or your GP surgery if you think your child is getting worse, for instance they are feeding or eating less than normal, are dehydrated, have a high temperature that won’t go down, are very hot and sweaty or seem more tired or irritable than normal."

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