A PRIMARY school pupil has become the eighth child to die after being diagnosed with Strep A.
The youngster’s death was confirmed by the headteacher at their school, Morelands Primary in Waterlooville, Hampshire.
Headmistress Alison Syred-Paul said: “Very tragically, we have learned of the death in recent days of a child who attended our school, who was also diagnosed with an invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) infection.
“We are absolutely devastated by the loss of one of our young pupils and offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the child’s family at this extremely sad time.”
She added: “As a precaution, we have also been raising awareness amongst parents, carers and our school community of the signs and symptoms of Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) infections, and what to do if a child develops these, including invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) infection.”
The school is listed as having 328 pupils.
Eight children are now known to have died from the illness which usually only causes a mild sore throat and temperature — but in extreme cases can lead to a life-threatening infection.
The other deaths were almost all children of primary school age.
The pandemic lockdown is being blamed for the outbreak because children were shuttered away — creating a lower immunity to infections.
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The UK Health Security Agency said the last time there was an intensive period of Strep A infection was in 2017-18, with four deaths in England in the equivalent time frame.
The Sun’s Dr Jeff Foster said Strep A is one of the most common bugs doctors see in kids every year, but that it is currently surging.
He said: “It is commonly found in children under ten and is spread by droplets and close contact — through spit, sneezing, coughing and touching infected surfaces. It’s the same way you would get a common cold.
“You can get mild cases where children have a temperature and a sore throat. If it becomes scarlet fever they would get a rash, which looks like sandpaper, around four or five days after the temperature starts, and red flushing cheeks.
“This year’s is not a new variant. It’s the post-Covid effect as kids were not exposed to bugs for two years.”
Dr Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, added: “It is important parents are on the lookout for symptoms — and see a doctor as quickly as possible so we can stop the infection becoming serious.”
Q&A with Sun’ Dr Jeff Foster
Q) What is Strep A?
A) Group A Streptococcus is the name of a bacteria which can cause different infections and is commonly found in children under the age of ten.
Every year doctors will see a lot of children with suspected Strep A. You can get mild cases where you might not even know what it is because they would just have a temperature and a sore throat.
It can become scarlet fever which you can spot if your children develops a rash. It looks like sandpaper and develops around four or five days after the temperature starts.
The child would also get red flushing cheeks.
Q) What is invasive Group A Strep or iGAS?
A) In very rare cases the bacteria can get invade parts of the body including the blood, muscles or lungs.
Early signs and symptoms of such disease include a high fever, severe muscle aches, pain in one area of the body, redness at the site of a wound and vomiting or diarrhoea.
Q) How does it spread?
A) It is spread by droplets and close contact — through your spit, sneezing, coughing and touching infected surfaces.
It is passed on in the same way as a common cold.
Q) Why has there been such an increase in cases?
A) It is believed to be because during Covid lockdowns young children were not mixing which would usually help to build up the immune system.
If you are constantly exposed to a little bit of Group A Strep and similar bacteria then your immune system would be ready and would nail it when it comes back into contact.
Q) How is it treated?
A) Scarlet fever and impetigo, which are both caused by Strep A, can be treated with antibiotics.
Mild cases which cause a sore throat or a high temperature will usually clear up on their own.