The first secondary school pupil has died from Strep A in South London. The child, believed to be 12 years old, was a pupil at Colfe's School in Lee, Lewisham. The government body responsible for helping protect public health said it had given the school advice and support.
"Group A streptococcal infections usually result in mild illness, and information has been shared with parents and staff about the signs and symptoms," the UK Health Security Agency said.
Since September, six other children have died from Strep A, but have all been under seven-years-old. Last month, four-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, known as Ibrahim, from High Wycombe died after catching Strep A.
Below: Ibrahim was described as 'a lovely boy' - reporter Natalia Jorquera spoke to his headteacher, Stuart Cook
The headteacher at Ibrahim's school in Buckinghamshire, Stuart Cook, described him as "a lovely boy, who was very kind to his classmates and would always come into school with a big smile on his face". "Ibrahim particularly loved Monday afternoons where he'd be outside on our school field taking part in Forest School, getting muddy on the rope swings, I think he was a child who just enjoyed life, enjoyed being at school, and we'll always remember that smile of his," he added. Mr Cook described the news as a "tremendous shock", adding: "I think one thing that's great about Oakridge School is that we are one big family, and everyone's really come together to support each other, which has been a great strength to all of us." Since finding out the devastating news, Mr Cook said: "It was important that as a school we got some advice about how to speak to children about death. "We've been doing some activities with the children, they've been drawing pictures to Ibrahim and putting them in his draw, we had books of condolences for the community to write in, and we created an area for them to lay flowers and we set up a just giving page. "The response has been overwhelming, and there has been over £4,000 raised which will go towards creating a memorial for Ibrahim here at Oakridge School, so he's always going to be part of Oakridge school, and the Oakridge family."
When should I speak to my GP?
Most people who catch Strep A experience mild symptoms such as a sore throat, or a skin infection, which are easily treated with antibiotics if caught early. However, Strep A can cause a range of other illnesses like Scarlet Fever, and in very rare cases can develop into invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) infection, which can be deadly. Dr Natalie Rout explained that not everyone who catches Strep A will feel ill. "We do find Strep A in humans without any symptoms," Dr Rout said. "So, you or I might be carrying it without knowing and it may not cause us any problems at all. "For some people it will cause mild infection, but otherwise it can just stay in our throats and in our skin without causing any problems at all." But Dr Rout added she didn't want to scare people. "Yes, it's awful news that some children have unfortunately been severely infected by this invasive Group A Strep, but it's a very common time of year for viruses to be circulating," she said. "You know your child best, and if you are worried, then speak to your GP. "We'll be able to assess your child and look at their symptoms and give you an idea of whether we need to be worried or not," Dr Rout added.
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