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Health experts investigate Strep A cases after six children die

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Scotland has seen eight cases of Group A Streptococcus in children under 10 as further deaths from the bacteria are confirmed south of the border. 

Public Health Scotland (PHS) confirmed there have been no deaths from the infection in the country, STV reports. 

However, five children have died after contracting Strep A in England and another death was confirmed in Wales.

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The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said there had been a rise in rare invasive Group A strep this year. 

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.

The range of illnesses includes the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

Earlier, health officials confirmed a youngster from St John’s School in Ealing, west London, had died from Strep A, while the parents of a four-year-old boy from Buckinghamshire confirmed he had died from Strep A.

It comes after a pupil from Victoria primary school in Penarth, four miles south of Cardiff, also died.

Last week, a six-year-old died after an outbreak of the same infection at a school in Surrey.

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A PHS spokesperson said: “Bacterial infection caused by Group A Streptococcus (GAS) tends to increase during the winter season and has been increasing as expected since the beginning of October. 

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“Incidence is usually highest in those under the age of 10 years.

“The infection is usually diagnosed by development of a characteristic skin rash with accompanying high temperature (Scarlet Fever) and confirmed in the laboratory through submission of a throat swab. Cases with this infection respond promptly to early treatment with antibiotics.

“In Scotland, PHS report the number of positive throat swabs for GAS as a proxy measure of Scarlet Fever (Scarlet Fever has not been a Statutory Notifiable infection since 2008 so there are no Official Statistics on this clinical infection).

“Whilst GAS infections, including Scarlet Fever may be common, progression to the most severe manifestations – Invasive Group A Streptococcal (IGAS) infections are rare.

“It takes time to collect and report all investigations in IGAS cases so data is subject to revision on cases numbers and mortality. Thus far this season (since beginning October 2022), PHS has received report of eight IGAS cases in children under the age of 10 years. There have been no reported deaths in this age group in Scotland this season.”

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