Strep A: Where are the most cases - and where have the fatal cases been?

Pneumococcal bacteria (streptococcus pneumoniae). Pneumococcus is an important pathogen in humans. It is responsible for many infections (pneumonia). He was responsible for pneumonia during the Spanish flu pandemic). Visualized by optical microscopy. . (Photo by: CAVALLINI JAMES/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
While Strep A is normally a mild bacterial infection, the number of children developing severe symptoms this winter is unusually high. (Getty Images)

A ninth child in the UK has died amid an ongoing outbreak of strep A infections.

The bacteria normally causes mild illness such as sore throats and skin infections, but in some cases it can lead to a life threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS), as well as scarlet fever.

Cases are considerably higher than last year, according to the UK health security agency (UKHSA)

In the week beginning 14 November, there were 851 reported cases in England, compared to an average of 186 during the same period of 2021.

Experts are investigating whether reduced immunity, following the end of COVID-19 lockdown measures, may have contributed to the current surge, though caution it is too early to draw conclusions.

Read more: Strep A: Fundraiser set up for 'poorliest girl in England' raises £20k

IGAS cases across England (November)
Parents have been urged to remain vigilant as cases surge. (Yahoo News UK)

What we know about the children who have died of Strep A so far

  1. 14 November - Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, aged four, Oakridge School, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

  2. 24 November (death confirmed) - Name unknown, aged six, Ashford Church of England Primary, Ashford, Surrey

  3. 25 November - Hanna Roap, aged seven, Victoria Primary School, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan

  4. 2 December - Name and age unknown, St John's School, Ealing, West London

  5. 2 December - Another death declared by UKHSA

  6. 2 December - Another death declared by UKHSA

  7. 5 December (death confirmed) - Name unknown, aged 12, Colfe's School, Lewisham, South London

  8. 5 December (death confirmed) - Name and age unknown, Morelands Primary School, Waterlooville, Hampshire

  9. 6 December (death confirmed) - Stella-Lilly McCorkindale, aged five, The Black Mountain Primary School, West Belfast

Scarlet fever and iGAS cases in England - Dec 2022
Some experts have suggested children's immunity may have weakened during COVID-19 lockdown measures. (Yahoo News UK)

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Illnesses caused by the group A strep bacteria include skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

Symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, headache and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a “sandpapery” feel.

On darker skin, the rash can be harder to see but will still feel “sandpapery”.

Strep A infections can develop into a more serious invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) infection – though this is rare.

iGAS infections can lead to complications such as scarlet fever which causes flu-like symptoms and nasty rashes.

They can also result in bacteria entering parts of the body that are usually free from bacteria such as the lungs, blood or muscles.

Downing Street has urged parents and carers to be on the "lookout" for symptoms, but with some people showing no signs of the infection, there is concern about how to know if your child is suffering.

Read more: Are strep A outbreaks linked to COVID lockdown? What the experts say