"I believe parents should be made aware of the symptoms"
A mother spoke about the Strep A symptoms her son experienced before he died.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that six children under the age of 10 have died from the infection as of December 2, 2022.
Muhammad Ibrahim Ali’s mother, Shabana Kousar said the first sign of her son being unwell was a red rash across his lower back.
A full course of antibiotics appeared to help him but when his symptoms remained after two weeks, she was given Calpol for her four-year-old son.
Ibrahim’s condition worsened and he developed stomach pains.
He died in an ambulance en route to hospital in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
A week later, his post-mortem test results showed he had Strep A in his blood.
Ms Kousar stated that people should be more aware of the initial symptoms.
She said: “I believe parents should be made aware of the symptoms and act on it if their child is experiencing something similar.”
Ibrahim’s aunt Azra Ali said the government “needs to provide the correct guidance to local authorities”.
She said: “I’m worried that the public are still unaware of how serious this is as we’ve been told on the news that it’s very rare that children die from this strep A, but unfortunately they’re forgetting that we’ve had six deaths within the space of two weeks and I believe more are to come if the government don’t act quickly.”
What is Strep A?
Strep A – or Group A streptococcus (GAS) – is a type of bacterium found in the throat and on the skin and in most people does not cause any symptoms – known as being “colonised”.
However, it can cause a range of different illnesses of the nose, throat and lungs.
It can be spread through coughs, sneezes and skin-to-skin contact.
Those carrying the bacteria may have no symptoms but are just as likely to pass on Strep A as those who have fallen ill.
The bacteria can cause any of the following:
- Scarlet fever
- Skin infections like impetigo or erysipelas
Most cases of throat infection will get better on their own without treatment. Skin infections may require antibiotics.
But it can cause very severe infections, known as invasive GAS (iGAS).
This is when the bacterium gets past the body’s natural defences and enters parts of the body where it is not usually found, like through the blood, deep muscle or lungs.
Treatments include different types of antibiotics, and depending on how severe the symptoms are, blood transfusions may be given.
Parents are being urged to be vigilant and look out for symptoms in their children which include:
- Pain when swallowing
- Swollen tonsils with white patches
- Swollen neck glands
- A high temperature or a skin rash
Early signs and symptoms of invasive Group A streptococcus include:
- High fever
- Severe muscle aches
- Pain in one area of the body
- Redness at the site of a wound
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
If you or your child experiences symptoms, contact your GP and get medical advice straight away.
Strep A throat infection should be different from a regular sore throat as the pain came on quickly.
Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist from The University of Reading, said:
“The only way of being sure that somebody has got Strep A infection is to take a swab from the back of their throat and culture it in a laboratory.”
In response to the latest outbreak, a UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) spokesperson said:
“As part of our public health response to last week’s tragic news, we issued some general information about the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever, which is not uncommon, to schools in the vicinity of Ashford Primary.
“A number of other illnesses typically circulate at this time of year and parents, school and nursery staff are advised to be aware of the symptoms, to keep up with vaccinations and to seek advice from NHS 111 if they have concerns.”