A mother has warned other parents to be vigilant for Scarlet Fever – which comes from Strep A bacteria – after her daughter contracted the infection.
Joanne Jones initially thought eight-year-old Jasmine had a chest infection as she had a cough and was drowsy. Her symptoms worsened though and, when a rash developed, Joanne took her daughter to A&E.
Doctors diagnosed Jasmine with Scarlet Fever, an illness caused by Strep A.
Mum-of-three Joanne said: “He (a doctor) said, ‘I don’t want to alarm you with what’s in the media, but she’s got scarlet fever, which comes from a bacterial infection called strep A’.
“So I said, ‘the one that’s killed children on the news?’, and he looked at me and said ‘yes’. He gave me a prescription to start with immediate effect, and I was told to keep all three of my children off school as it’s highly contagious.”
At least eight children have now died in the UK after being diagnosed with Strep A.
UK Health Security Agency figures suggest that cases of Strep A are currently four times higher than normal among children aged between one and four, reports North Wales Live.
Although Streptococcus A infections are common, most often causing a relatively mild illness, eight children from across the UK have died in recent weeks after developing a rare complication. Public Health Wales says the complication, known as iGAS, is an invasive infection but rare.
Jasmine has been taking penicillin since her diagnosis seven days ago.
She and siblings have not been to school since as these are the guidelines around Strep A.
Recalling when Jasmine first fell unwell, Joanne said: “I thought she maybe had a chest infection. Then it turned into some kind of sickness bug, so I thought she had one of those 24-hour things. But after four days of hardly eating, I knew it wasn’t just a bug. At times she seemed OK. Then her temperature would spike to 40 degrees.
“She would go bright red, and it felt like I was holding a hot water bottle from the heat coming off her face, back, and chest. Then she got more and more drowsy nearing the end of the week, to the point she just couldn’t stop coughing.
“She was leaning into me, falling asleep on the street. Then I noticed she had a rash like a strawberry on her tongue, and a rash came out on her cheeks, but it can also be on children’s chest and back. I took her into A&E at 2am, waiting nine and a half hours to see someone.”
Joanne, from Llandudno, north Wales, said Jasmine is “just starting to get her appetite back.”
But Joanne’s youngest daughter Ophelia, three, has also caught the infection.
Joanne wanted to warn other parents to act quickly if they thought their children were poorly, claiming she had to wait over nine hours in A&E for treatment.
“If something doesn’t seem right, go straight to the doctor,” she said.
“One minute they seem completely fine and just turn so quickly. In the doctor’s surgery, they are so quick to palm you off with a viral infection and no treatment. They don’t like handing antibiotics out.
“I genuinely think the only reason my daughter was thoroughly checked was because we had sat waiting in A&E for nine hours, so they felt obliged. In a surgery, doctors could be telling a lot of people it’s just viral and sending them home two or three times before parents go back.
“If it’s left, it’s life-threatening.”
Speaking on behalf of Public Health Wales, Dr Graham Brown, consultant in communicable disease control, said: “While we understand that parents are likely to be worried by reports they are seeing related to iGAS, the condition remains rare.
“Cold and flu-like symptoms are very common at this time of year, especially in children. Most will have a common seasonal virus, which can be treated by keeping the child hydrated and with paracetamol.
“Some children with cold and flu-like symptoms – sore throat, headache, fever – may be experiencing some of the early symptoms of scarlet fever, which also circulates at this time of year. These children will go on to develop scarlet fever-specific symptoms, including a fine pink-red rash that feels like sandpaper to touch, and parents should contact their GP.
“While Scarlet Fever is more concerning, it is still usually a mild illness from which most children will recover without complications, especially if the condition is properly treated with antibiotics.
“In very rare cases, group A streptococcal infection can cause iGAS, a rare complication which affects fewer than 20 children in Wales each year. Although iGAS is a worrying condition, the majority of these children will recover with proper treatment.
“The best thing that parents can do is to provide the care they would usually provide for a child with cold and flu-like symptoms, but to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of scarlet fever and iGAS as a precaution.
“It is also important that children from two years upwards are protected from seasonal flu and have the vaccine.”
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