ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan reports on the Strep A spike as parents are urged to be vigilant
Downing Street has urged parents to be on the 'lookout' for symptoms after a rise in infections caused by the Strep A bacteria as an eighth child dies.
Officials said they can "fully understand" that parents are concerned by rising cases but stressed the NHS is "well prepared" for such situations.
Number 10 said it was not aware of any current shortage of the antibiotic amoxicillin.
Across the UK at least eight children have died with an invasive form of the Strep A bacterial infection in recent months, after a seventh possible case was reported at the weekend.
A Hampshire school pupil, who was also diagnosed with invasive Group A streptococcal infection (iGAS), became the latest child to die with the infection, it emerged on Monday.
Asked about the recent rise in cases earlier in the day, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: "It is still uncommon but it’s important parents are on the lookout for symptoms."
He said any parents who are concerned should contact the NHS.
Asked if there was a shortage of the antibiotic amoxicillin, which used to treat the infection, the spokesman added: "It’s important to reassure parents that there is no current shortage as far as we’re aware."
Strep A infections are usually mild and can be easily treated with antibiotics – illnesses caused by the Group A strep bacteria include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
There has been a giant leap in the number of scarlet fever cases.
There were 851 cases reported in the week of November 14 to 20, compared to an average of 186 for the same timeframe in previous years.
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.
If a parent or carer suspects scarlet fever they should call their GP or 111 as prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent serious illness and stop the spread of infection.
The mother of a five-year-old girl in Northern Ireland who is in hospital battling pneumonia after contracting 'Streptococcus A' warned parents to be on the look out for infections in their children.
Farah was diagnosed with 'Strep A' in November, however, her mother believes she developed it two months before her diagnosis.
"Last week, it took a turn for the worst," her mother Laura Rooney told UTV News.
Farah has been diagnosed with pneumonia and has been on five courses of antibiotics but doctors still aren't sure what's causing some of her rashes.
In Liverpool, Camila Rose Burns is in critical care on a ventilator and has been receiving care since the end of last month.
Her parents, Dean Burns and Kaye Daniels, told ITV News Granada they are living in "constant terror" as they await updates on their daughter's medical condition.
More than £14,000 has been donated to a GoFundMe page, after it was set up by Camila's aunt, Laura Daniels.
The couple said they first noticed Camila displaying mild sickness symptoms last Saturday, before her mum initially decided to take her to hospital on Sunday morning.
Since being admitted to hospital Camila has made "improvements" but her mother said doctors "still can’t say that she's okay".
Camila's parents are now urging others to be wary of any potential symptoms of Strep A.
Ms Daniels said any parent should not "doubt yourself if you think your kid is ill".
Strep A infections can develop into a more serious invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) infection – though this is rare.
Officials have noticed an increase in iGAS cases this year, particularly in children under 10.
It comes as experts from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said they were exploring whether the rise in cases was due to a lack of immunity due to Covid lockdowns.Dr Colin Brown from the 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."
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