Strep A: Two more children die of infection bringing UK total to 26

At 19 children have died from invasive Strep A, officials have confirmed (PA) (PA Archive)
At 19 children have died from invasive Strep A, officials have confirmed (PA) (PA Archive)

Two children aged under 10 in Scotland have died with Strep A infection since October 3, bringing the UK total to 26.

Public Health Scotland said it is aware of seven deaths among invasive group A streptococcal infections (iGAS) cases between October 3 and December 25.

Two of the deaths were in children under 10 years of age.

It said this compares with between zero and seven deaths reported during the same time period of previous years.

Strep A bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases. They include scarlet fever, strep throat and the skin infection impetigo.

Symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, headache and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a “sandpapery” feel. Online NHS information suggests Strep A infections such as scarlet fever can be treated with the antibiotics penicillin and amoxicillin.

PHS said that in the week ending December 25 there were 869 laboratory reports of Group A Streptococcus (GAS), a reduction from 1,079 the previous week.

This compares with between 300 and 480 reports per week during peaks observed in the period since 2016.

Scotland's Health Secretary Humza Yousaf tweeted: "Every death is a tragedy, particularly those of young children, my thoughts with families & loved ones affected."

He added: "Thankfully most cases of Strep A present as mild illness & can be treated with antibiotics. Working with UK Govt to ensure adequate supplies.

"Where localised shortages of first line treatments occur there are alternative & effective antibiotics available."