Key signs of Strep A to look out after school outbreak kill 6-year-old

Strep A: Health expert warns against ‘invasive’ bacterial infection

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A year 1 pupil has died in hospital after contracting the infection at his school in Surrey, according to an email sent out to parents. A second child in the year above is being cared for in a hospital following an outbreak at the primary school. Staff and pupils in the affected year groups have been offered antibiotics in a bid to prevent further infections.

The illnesses, linked to Group A strep, can range from minor illnesses to very serious and deadly diseases.

It occurs when life-threatening bacteria invade several parts of the body, including the blood and muscle tissue.

The condition is contagious, meaning it can spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges of an infected individual, or with infected lesions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an infection from Strep A can cause a sore throat to develop quickly.

The symptoms may resemble those of tonsillitis, causing swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches of streaks of pus.

Petechiae, which describes tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth, is also commonly seen in patients.

Other signs listed on the CDC’s include:
Pain when swallowing
Swollen lymph nodes at the front of the neck.

According to the health body, the following four symptoms suggest a virus is the cause of the illness, rather than strep throat:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Hoarseness
  • Conjunctivitis.

Anyone can get strep throat, but there are some factors that can increase the risk of getting this common infection, such as being a child and being in a group setting.

Because close contact with an infected person is the most common risk factor for illness, bacteria can easily spread to other people in the same household.

It should be noted that a great number of people who contract the disease remain well and symptom-free.

What’s more, people who carry the bacteria but have no symptoms are far less likely to spread the disease.

It is most likely to cause illness if a person’s immune defences are already depleted, or a wound hasn’t yet healed.

Only one other pupil attending Ashford Church of England Primary School is known to be infected, with health experts closely monitoring the situation.

According to PA news agency, an email sent by the school to parents read: “It is with the deepest regret and sadness that I have to inform you that a child in year 1 has sadly died after developing invasive Group A streptococcal.”

A spokesman for the UK Health Security Agency said: “Specialists are arranging for antibiotics to be offered to pupils and staff at a Surrey School as a precautionary measure, following two cases of invasive Group A streptococcal infection (iGAS).”

Doctor Claire Winslade, a heart protection consultant at UKHSA South East, added: “We are extremely saddened to hear about the death of a pupil at Ashford.

“As a precautionary measure, we have recommended antibiotics to pupils and staff in the same year groups as the individuals affected.

“We have provided advice to the school to help prevent further cases and will contribute to monitoring the situation.

“Information has been shared with parents about the signs and symptoms of iGAS, which include high fever with severe muscle aches, pain in one area of the body and unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea.”

Anyone with the above symptoms is advised to call 111 immediately.

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