Strep A: Two children in hospital and 30 ill after scarlet fever outbreak at Carmarthenshire school

Public health Wales have said around 30 children at Bryanaman Primary School in Carmarthenshire were suffering from the bacterial infection. Credit: Google Maps

Three cases of invasive Strep A have been identified in an outbreak of scarlet fever at a primary school.

Public Health Wales (PHW) said around 30 children have been taken ill following the outbreak at Brynaman Primary School, in Carmarthenshire.

Speaking at a council meeting on Wednesday, Councillor Glynog Davies said two of the children were taken to hospital after becoming unwell, with one transferred to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Invasive Group A Streptococcal disease is caused by the same bacteria as scarlet fever.

PHW said while they understand concern from parents the "majority of these childrenwill recover with proper treatment."

Sion Lingard, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “Public Health Wales is working with Hywel Dda University Health Board and Carmarthenshire County Council to respond to around 30 of cases of scarlet fever in pupils at Brynaman Primary School.

“Among these are three cases of invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS), which is caused by the same bacteria as scarlet fever. These have occurred over a six week period and are more than would normally be expected.

“iGAS is a rare complication which usually affects fewer than 20 children in Wales each year. Although iGAS is concerning, the majority of these children will recover with proper treatment.

“Parents of children at the school have been reminded of the symptoms of scarlet fever and what actions they should take, including keeping unwell children away from school and seeking medical advice if needed."

Nine children across the UK are now confirmed to have died after being infected by the bacteria, including a pupil from Victoria Primary School in Penarth.

Cllr Davies said on Wednesday: "It is very important that we raise awareness. If there are two or more cases in a 10-day period in a school, the school would have to notify the health protection team for further guidance."

Cllr Davies urged people to wash their hands frequently and to cover their face when coughing.

What is Strep A?

Strep A is a bacterium which can colonise the throat, skin and anogenital tract. It causes a diverse range of skin, soft tissue and respiratory tract infections.

Strep A is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be extremely serious, but is treatable.

A high temperature can be one of the symptoms of a Strep A infection. Credit: PA

It can cause a range of different illness, but tends to begin with a few typical symptoms. These include: a rash, a sore throat, flushed cheeks, swollen tongue, severe muscle aches, high temperature, localised muscle tenderness and redness at the site of a wound.

It is spread through coughs and sneezes with cases most common during the winter period.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause serious and life-threatening invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

Those with symptoms are advised to seek medical treatment immediately.

What are the symptoms of scarlet fever?

The symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.

This is followed by a fine red rash, which typically first appears on the chest and stomach, rapidly spreading to other parts of the body. Older children may not have the rash.

On darker skin, the rash may be harder to spot, but it should feel like sandpaper.  

The face can be flushed red but pale around the mouth.

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