Strep A deaths rise to 94 including 24 children as infections surge

Ninety-four people in England have died in the past four months after contracting the Strep A infection, figures show.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSCA) said that nearly half (41 per cent) of the deaths were among people aged 75 and over.

Some 17 per cent – or 24 – of the deaths were in children aged 10 and under, the government body added.

Strep A is a common type of bacteria usually found in the throat and on the skin.

Most infections are mild and easily treated but some can cause more serious conditions such as scarlet fever and invasive group A streptococcal infection (iGAS), which can be fatal.

The figures come following a spate of recent deaths of children after a spike in infections.

Experts believe the rise in cases of Strep A is due to lower immunity and more social mixing coming out of the Covid pandemic.

Cases of scarlet fever have also spiked as a result of the increasing Strep A infections.

Health officials say scarlet fever symptoms to look out for in your child 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 still have a sandpapery feel.

The UKSCA said that, in the past two weeks, there has been a “steep increase” in cases of scarlet fever, which mostly affects young children.

Weekly numbers of scarlet fever notifications to GPs in the past few months “have been higher than any previously recorded,” it added.

In an update on 22 December, the UKHSCA said that number of iGAS cases recorded from mid-September to mid-December was 960.

This was higher than over the last five seasons for the same weeks, the UKHSCA said.

24 children aged 10 or under have died after contracting conditions linked to Strep A

(PA Archive)

Officials said the higest rates so far have been reported in the South Yorkshire and Humber region (2.5 cases per 100,000 of the population).

The southwest region was second with  (2.0 per 100,000) and southeast and northeast regions (1.9 per 100,000).

Eighteen of the cases were in children aged one and under; 126 in ages one to four; 88 in ages five to nine; 17 in ages 10 to 14; 210 in ages 15 to 44; 173 in ages 45 to 64; 124 in ages 65 to 74 and 204 in ages 75 and over.

Over the same period there were 27,486 cases of scarlet fever, with 9,977 so far for week 49.

This compares with an average of 2,318 for the same period over the previous five years.

Scarlet fever cases showed considerable variation across England, ranging between 31.4 (West Midlands) and 77.5 (East Midlands) per 100,000 population.

Officials said while this may represent differential disease transmission it may also relate to differential notification practices by clinicians.


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