Two children in Scotland die with Strep A infection

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Desk report: Two children in Scotland have died with the Strep A infection, figures show.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) says two children under the age of 10 died between October and December.

Strep A cases are usually mild, causing illness ranging from a sore throat to scarlet fever, but in rare occasions can develop into invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) infection.

In its latest update PHS reports seven deaths among iGAS cases, two of which were in children.

The agency says on its website: “PHS is aware of seven deaths amongst iGAS cases that appear to meet the case definition between 3 October and 25 December 2022, two of whom were in children under 10 years of age.

Graphic showing Strep A symptoms to look out for: fever, rash that feels like sandpaper, swollen glands, sore throat and muscle aches

“This compares with between zero and seven deaths reported during the same time period of previous years.”

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf responded to the PHS report on social media.

“Every death is a tragedy, particularly those of young children, my thoughts with families and loved ones affected,” he tweeted.

“Thankfully most cases of Strep A present as mild illness and can be treated with antibiotics.”

Mr Yousaf said he was working with the UK government to ensure there were adequate supplies to treat the illness.

He added: “Where localised shortages of first line treatments occur there are alternative and effective antibiotics available.”

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has so far reported 94 cases of people dying in England within seven days of an iGAS diagnosis. Of those, 16 were children aged 10 and younger.

The UKHSA has said a rise in Strep A cases this year is most likely due to high amounts of the bacteria circulating and increased social mixing.

Parents are being urged to look out for symptoms and to promptly contact their GP or NHS24 if they have any concerns.

UKHSA advises people to 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

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