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Eighth child believed to have died with Strep A infection

Picture posed by a model (Komdet Chanakittidecha/Alamy/PA)
Picture posed by a model (Komdet Chanakittidecha/Alamy/PA)

An eighth child is believed to have died with an invasive form of the Strep A bacteria.

Morelands Primary, in Waterlooville, Hampshire, reportedly said it is “absolutely devastated” by the loss of one of its pupils.

It comes after the seventh death from Strep A was of a year eight secondary school pupil in south-east London.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it will not comment on individual cases.

According to the BBC, Morelands Primary School headteacher Alison Syred-Paul said: “We are absolutely devastated by the loss of one of our young pupils and offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the child’s family at this extremely sad time. We ask that the privacy of the family is respected.

“As a precaution, we have been raising awareness amongst parents, carers and our school community of the signs and symptoms… and what to do if a child develops these.”

Simon Bryant, director of public health at Hampshire County Council, reportedly said the authority is “working closely with the school to raise awareness amongst parents and carers of the signs and symptoms of Group A Streptococcal infections”.

He added: “I would stress that contracting (this) disease from another person is very rare.

“Most people who come into contact with Group A Streptococcal infections remain well and symptom-free – and therefore there is no reason for children to be kept home if well.”

Online NHS information suggests Strep A infections such as scarlet fever can be treated with the antibiotics penicillin and amoxicillin.

Asked about the recent rise in cases on Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year compared to usual.

“The bacteria we know causes a mild infection which is easily treated with antibiotics and in rare circumstances it can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness.

“It is still uncommon but it’s important parents are on the lookout for symptoms.

“But the NHS is well prepared to deal with situations like this, working with the UK Health Security Agency.”

He said any concerned parents should contact the NHS.

Number 10 said it is unaware of any amoxicillin shortage after the head of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, Leyla Hannbeck, tweeted: “Pharmacies are reporting shortage of amoxicillin liquid for children at a time when cases of Strep A are rising.”

Strep A infections are usually mild and can be easily treated with antibiotics.

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

There has been a big leap in the number of scarlet fever cases.

There were 851 cases reported from November 14 to 20, compared to an average of 186 for the same timeframe in previous years.

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 be “sandpapery”.

If a parent or carer suspects scarlet fever, they should call their GP or 111 as prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent serious illness and stop the spread of infection.

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

Officials have noticed an increase in iGAS cases this year, particularly in children under 10.