Niyi_Kehinde_1_HD.jpgA leading medic at NCIC has issued some advice as to how and spot the signs and symptoms of Strep A or more precisely Group A Streptococcus (GAS) infection, which is on the rise in the UK, particularly in children under 10.

The most common type of Strep A infection is scarlet fever. There were 851 cases of scarlet fever reported so far this year compared to an average of 186 over the same period in the preceding years

Dr Olaniyi Kehinde, Consultant in Paediatrics at NCIC, said: “Group A Streptococci (GAS) are bacteria that can cause illnesses such as scarlet fever, tonsillitis (throat infection) and impetigo (skin infection). While most of these are usually mild illnesses that can be easily treated with antibiotics, the bacteria is highly infectious. A small proportion of children can go on to develop serious infections such as pneumonia (chest infection) and sepsis (bloodstream infection) as a complication of invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS)”.

“Parents should look for symptoms that indicate an invasive infection is developing, such as a continued raised temperature, lethargy or floppiness, not eating or drinking as usual, and lack of urination.

“There are lots of viruses that cause sore throats, colds and coughs circulating at this time of the year. These should resolve without medical intervention. However, children can on occasion develop a bacterial infection on top of a virus and that can make them more unwell.

“Look out for symptoms in your child, which include a sore throat, headache, and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel. On darker skin, the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have a sandpapery feel.”

If you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement and 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 older than 3 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.

Contact NHS 111 or your GP if you suspect your child has scarlet fever, because early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection. If your child has scarlet fever, keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

There is currently no evidence that a new viral strain is circulating. The increase in Strep A is most likely related to high amounts of circulating bacteria and social mixing.