Ealing child one of six to die from Strep A infection

Image above: St John’s Primary School at Green Man Gardens in Ealing

Big rise in cases this year compared with pre-pandemic levels

A child in west London has been confirmed as one of six children to die after contracting Strep A in the UK in recent weeks. Health experts’ investigation into the outbreak has confirmed a significant rise in cases.

The child in west London, whose name and age have not been released, was a pupil at St John’s Primary School in Green Man Gardens, Ealing. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have confirmed the child’s death and said they are working with Ealing Council to provide public health advice and support to the school.

The agency confirmed a rise in the rare invasive Group A strep infection this year, particularly in children under the age of ten. Symptoms include a high temperature, swollen glands, muscle aches and a sandpaper-like rash.

According to UKHSA data, there have been 2.3 cases of the invasive disease per 100,000 children aged one to four this year in England, compared with an average of 0.5 in the pre-pandemic seasons (2017 to 2019). There have also been 1.1 cases per 100,000 children aged five to nine compared with the pre-pandemic average of 0.3 (2017 to 2019).

Image above: group A streptococcus bacteria on human neutrophil

What is invasive Strep A?

Strep A can cause something called invasive group A streptococcal infection or iGAS, which can be deadly. These infections are caused by the bacteria getting into parts of the body where it is not normally found, such as the lungs or bloodstream, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

iGAS is spread by close contact with an infected person and can be passed on through coughs and sneezes or from a wound.

Warning signs of invasive disease include: fever (a high temperature above 38C) and severe muscle aches.

The UK Health Security Agency advises:

“Anyone with high fever, severe muscle aches, pain in one area of the body and unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea should call NHS 111 and seek medical help immediately.”

Since Strep A is a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics.

UK Health Security Agency information about Strep A

Efforts underway to help prevent further cases

Reacting to the death of the child in Ealing, Dr Yimmy Chow, health protection consultant at the UK Health Security Agency, said:

“We are extremely saddened to hear about the death of a child at St John’s Primary School, and our thoughts are with their family, friends and the school community.

“Working with Ealing Council public health team, we have provided precautionary advice to the school community to help prevent further cases and we continue to monitor the situation closely.”

“In rare incidences, it can be a severe illness and anyone with high fever, severe muscle aches, pain in one area of the body and unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea should call NHS 111 and seek medical help immediately,” Mr Chow added.

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