Blog - Group A Strep/Scarlet Fever – what should parents look out for?
You will no doubt have seen in the press recently that a higher than normal number of children for this time of year are being diagnosed with Group A Strep or Scarlet Fever.
Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious and is caused by bacteria called group A streptococci. This same bacteria can also cause other respiratory and skin infections, such as strep throat and impetigo. Very rarely, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive group A strep (iGAS). Whilst still uncommon, according to the UKHSA, there has been an increase in invasive group A strep cases this year, particularly in children under 10
Dr Colin Brown, Deputy Director at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “Scarlet fever and ‘strep throat’ are common childhood illnesses that can be treated easily with antibiotics. Very rarely, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause more serious illness called invasive group A strep. We know that this is concerning for parents, but I want to stress that while we are seeing an increase in cases in children, this remains very uncommon”.
Common symptoms include a high temperature, a sore throat, a rash that feels like sandpaper to touch, impetigo and aching muscles.
The UKHSA is encouraging parents to trust their own judgement if their child seems seriously unwell. They are advising parents to contact NHS 111 or GP if:
your child is getting worse
your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38°C, or is 3 to 6 months and has a temperature of 39°C or higher
your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
your child is very tired or irritable
Call 999 or go to A&E if:
your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
there are pauses when your child breathes
your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake