Strep A: What's the latest advice and what to do if you are worried about your child's symptoms

Parents are being asked to be vigilant although infections are rare in Wales. Credit: PA

Advice has been issued by public health experts after eight children in the UK are known to have died with an invasive form of Strep A bacteria.

One of those was a primary school pupil Hannah Roap from Penarth.

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 big leap in the number of scarlet fever cases.

Public Health Wales confirmed on Tuesday there were "no plans" to give out mass prescriptions of antibiotics in Wales, for school children after a government minister revealed a plan to do so in England.

Dr Graham Brown from Public Health Wales said whilst it is a worrying condition, the majority of children will recover. Credit: PA

Across the UK, there were 1,512 cases between January and October 2022, compared to 948, in the same period, in 2019.

Public Health Wales has issued advice and added the risk to children remains "very low."

Symptoms of Strep A:

  • Fever (a high temperature above 38°C)

  • Severe muscle aches

  • Localised muscle tenderness

  • Redness at the site of a wound

Dr Graham Brown from Public Health Wales said that whilst he understands the worry of parents, it remains rare and if infected, the majority of children will recover.

He added that most children will have cold and flu like symptoms which can be treated by keeping the child hydrated, and with paracetamol.

But Dr Brown is asking parents to remain vigilant as he went on to say: “Some children with cold and flu like symptoms - sore throat, headache, fever - may be experiencing some of the early symptoms of scarlet fever, which also circulates at this time of year.

"These children will go on to develop scarlet fever specific symptoms, including a fine pink-red rash that feels like sandpaper to touch, and parents should contact their GP."

Symptoms of scarlet fever:

  • Sore throat

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Red rash typically on the chest and stomach

  • Face can be flushed red but pale around the mouth

Parents are being advised to contact their GP, or call NHS Wales 111, if they think their child has any of the signs and symptoms of either infections.

Some pharmacies in Wales are offering swab tests to check for Strep A.

Dr Brown added that although scarlet fever is more concerning, it is "usually a mild illness, from which most children will recover without complications, especially if the condition is properly treated with antibiotics."

Parents who suspect their child has symptoms of scarlet fever are advised that they should:

  • Make sure their child takes the full course of any antibiotics prescribed by the doctor

  • Keep their child at home, away from nursery, school or work

  • Follow any guidance provided by their GP on how long they should remain absent from these settings