Strep A, or Group A Streptococcus, describes a bacteria that targets your throat and nose. Worryingly, the number of children who died from a severe Strep A infection has risen to nine since September. While invasive Streptococcus infections are rare, there has been an increase in severe cases this year. Fortunately, experts share the “most common” symptoms that could help you identify the condition promptly.
Navin Khosla, Medical Writer at NiceRx said: “The bacterium is very common and lots of people will have it unknowingly but in some cases, it can spread to others who may have an increased chance of becoming ill from the infection.
“The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has reported a higher number of cases of Strep A than they usually would around this time, which has left many people feeling anxious and wanting to know how they can spot the signs of the infection.
“As the infection is often spread by coughs, sneezes and close contact, outbreaks usually take place within schools, which is why parents are feeling worried about recent news articles.
“In most cases, the infection is mild but it’s still important to spot the most common symptoms.”
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the “most common” symptom of Strep A is acute pharyngitis.
This painful sign, also known as strep throat, describes a sore throat that can start very quickly and become severe.
However, Duncan Reid, Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, explained that this uncomfortable sign isn’t always caused by Strep A.
Mr Reid said: “Not all sore throats are caused by strep A and children can often experience this symptom because of other viruses which will usually clear up on their own within a few days.”
The expert said: “If your child starts to experience any of these symptoms, then it’s important that you contact NHS 111 or your GP and keep them away from others for the time being.
“It’s important to contact a health professional during the early stages as antibiotics can be prescribed, which will help to reduce more complicated health issues as a result of the infection.”
What is the main Strep A treatment?
The main treatment for Strep A are antibiotics which can help you get better quicker and reduce your risk of serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, according to Mr Reid.
While some pharmacies have warned there’s an antibiotic shortage, Rishi Sunak and Steve Barclay insist this is not the case.
The Prime Minister told MPs: “There are no current shortages of drugs available to treat this and there are well-established procedures in place to ensure that that remains the case.”
How dangerous is strep A?
Despite nine children dying from the bacterial infection this winter, experts keep stressing that life-threatening outcomes are very rare.
Mr Khosla said: “As alarming as recent news stories and headlines are regarding Strep A, it’s important to understand that most cases are mild and lots of people have the infection without even knowing.”
The bacteria seem to get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness called invasive Group A strep (iGAS) only in “very rare” occasions.