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Everything you need to know about Strep A

It’s the worrying infection that’s causing mass panic among parents. After news that seven children have died with Strep A since September, Dr Nighat is here to explain everything you need to know about the viral infection - what it is, the symptoms and how it can be treated.

What is Strep A?

"Group A Strep is a really common bacterium, in fact epidemiologists say about 11% of the population carry this bacterium. On the majority of people actually it's really harmless, they will get little to no symptoms. In some people you can get some symptoms. It causes a number of basically bacteria type infections, it is easily treated with some stock antibiotics like penicillin."

Why are people worried?

"It can go into the blood stream and cause invasive Group A Streptococcal and that can lead on to complications. It's knowing to pick up the symptoms early as it is treatable."

What are the symptoms?

"If we're talking about scarlet fever, the symptoms are high-fever so temperatures of about 38/40 degrees, sore throat, a very red sore throat. You're looking for red cheeks, a rash on the skin which looks like a red prickly rash but also feels 'sand papery' and here's a significant thing, in people of colour black and asian skin, the rash doesn't actually look red."

Is it a new strain?

"It's not a new strain at all, like I said it's a bacteria that's been around in our communities all the time. The idea is that we just need to get people to be alert of the signs and symptoms and knowing the discrepancies on different skin types."

How can you prevent it?

Dr Nighat recommends: "Washing your hands thoroughly, making sure you've got proper ventilation, making sure you're staying at home if you're poorly and getting antibiotics in early."

When should you go to the doctor?

"I always say to parents and care givers know your gut instincts, you know your babies really well and if they're really struggling so temperatures that aren't coming down with Calpol or Nurofen if you've tried that, they're off their food. Little child if they're not wetting their nappies or they're not peeing enough, they're just really lethargic or drowsy. Their breathing is quite fast and especially if you're seeing rashes and you've done the glass test."

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