Parents urged to look out for Strep A symptoms after six children die
Parents have been told not to panic, as ITV News' Katie Cole reports
Health officials have warned parents to watch out for signs of Strep A infection after six children died from the virus in England and Wales.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said there has been a rise in invasive Group A Strep this year, particularly in children under 10.
Since September, there have been five deaths of under-10s in England. A separate case has been reported in Wales, taking the known UK total to six.
Dr Colin Brown from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) told ITV News: "Parents shouldn't be overtly worried - the number of children overall with severe disease is small and the overall number of fatalities, albeit sad indeed, are low."
However, the UKHSA has told parents to seek medical help as soon as possible if they detect signs in their children, in order to stop the infection becoming serious.
What are the main symptoms of Strep A?
Strep A bacteria can cause a lot of different illness, but tends to begin with a few typical symptoms, which include:
A swollen tongue
Severe muscle aches
Localised muscle tenderness
Redness at the site of a wound.
Group A Strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.
The range of illnesses includes the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.
According to UKHSA data, there were 2.3 cases of 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).
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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).
There were very few infections during the pandemic itself -experts believe an increase in social mixing is behind the current rise.
As cases increase, the parents of a four-year-old who is fighting for her life in hospital with a Strep A infection say they are "praying" she returns home alive.
Camila Rose Burns is in critical care on a ventilator at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool. She has been receiving treatment since Monday.
Her parents, Dean Burns and Kaye Daniels, told ITV News they're living in "constant terror" as they await updates on their daughter's medical condition.
Camila's distraught parents tell ITV News their daughter is in a fragile condition
Health officials confirmed a youngster from St John’s School in Ealing, west London, had died from Strep A, while the parents of a four-year-old boy from Buckinghamshire confirmed he had died from Strep A.
The four-year-old from Buckinghamshire has been named locally as Muhammad Ibrahim Ali.
The Bucks Free Press newspaper said he died at his home in High Wycombe on November 14 after suffering a cardiac arrest.
A pupil from Victoria primary school in Penarth, four miles south of Cardiff, also died. Last week, a six-year-old died after an outbreak of the same infection at a school in Surrey.