Strep A: More than 200 cases of scarlet fever across North East as parents urged to lookout for symptoms

There have been 234 cases of scarlet fever recorded in the North East since September, Government figures show.

According to data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), cases of scarlet fever are higher than we would typically see at this time of year with a total of 234 recorded in the North East from September 12 to November 20.

At least nine children across the UK are now known to have died from an invasive form of Strep A bacteria.

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Scarlet fever is “usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious”, according to the UKHSA and is caused by the bacteria group A streptococci, and in very rare occasions, this bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause invasive Group A Strep.

File photo dated 27/11/19 of school children during class at a primary school, as preventative antibiotics could be given to children at schools affected by Strep A infections, the schools minister has confirmed. PA Photo. Issue date: Tuesday December 6, 2022. Nick Gibb told GB News the issue was raised in the House of Lords on Monday and the use of antibiotics is an option. Eight children are known to have died from invasive Strep A infection. See PA story HEALTH Infection. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands which develops into a rash 12 to 48 hours later on the chest and tummy, then spreads.

New figures also show a total of 26 cases of iGas – the most serious infections linked to GAS which come from invasive group A strep – across the region.

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Current statistics show that the highest rates so far were reported in the Yorkshire and Humber region (1.4 per 100,000 population), followed by the North East, South East and North West regions (each 1.0 per 100,000).

Investigations are underway following reports of an increase in lower respiratory tract Group A Strep infections in children over the past few weeks, which have caused severe illness.

Dr Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, says invasive Group A Strep is “uncommon”, but said: “It is important that parents are on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor as quickly as possible, so their child can be treated and we can stop the infection becoming serious.

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"Make sure you talk to a health professional if your child is showing signs of deteriorating after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.”

UKHSA advises parents to be aware of the symptoms to know when to seek medical help.