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Strep A news – live: Emergency department flooding with children as death toll climbs to 15

About one-third of patients wait more than four hours to be seen

Namita Singh
Friday 09 December 2022 07:20 GMT
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Related: Mother ‘terrified’ as daughter with Strep A infection fights for life

Emergency departments in NHS is observing a jump in young patients, as the death toll from invasive Strep A illness rose to 15.

The infection has hit the NHS during its busiest period time, with pharmacies struggling with localised shortages of antibiotics – leaving parents struggling to find medicine for their sick children.

NHS trust directors and doctors have warned of accidents and emergencies (A&Es) overflowing with children attending with winter viruses such as flu, RSV and now Strep A.

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.

It comes as NHS England has sent a warning to healthcare leaders over the increased demand driven by Strep A concerns on Thursday with A&Es observing record delays as one-third of patients waited more than four hours to be seen, while NHS 111 services saw a spike in calls last weekend.

Experts have warned the NHS is “bursting at the seems” with staff demoralised at the standards of care.

Patients across England have faced record A&E delays as NHS performance against emergency targets slumps to a new low, new data shows.

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Welcome to The Independent’s health blog for Friday, 9 December 2022, where we provide the latest on Strep A outbreak across the UK.

Namita Singh9 December 2022 04:06
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A&E ‘ overflowing’ with children hit by winter viruses as Strep A deaths climb to 15

Strep A has now been linked to the deaths of at least 15 children in the UK as A&E doctors warn emergency departments have seen a doubling in young patients in emergency departments over the last week.

The infection has hit the NHS during its busiest period time, with pharmacies struggling with localised shortages of antibiotics – leaving parents struggling to find medicine for their sick children.

NHS trust directors and doctors have warned of A&Es overflowing with children attending with winter viruses such as flu, RSV and now Strep A.

Read the details in this report from our health correspondent Rebecca Thomas:

A&Es ‘overflowing’ with children hit by winter viruses as Strep A deaths climb to 15

Emergency rooms in England saw record delays with one-third of patients waiting more than four hours to be seen

Namita Singh9 December 2022 04:39
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How many Strep A deaths are there each year in the UK?

At least 15 children have now died from Strep A-related infections in the current outbreak.

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different illnesses, including scarlet fever, the skin infection impetigo, and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS). Cases of iGAS are higher than usual this year, reports my colleague Liam James:

How many Strep A deaths are there each year in the UK?

Cases of related infections are above usual and dozens have died including children

Namita Singh9 December 2022 05:00
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Strep A cases in your area as UK infections rise 30 per cent

Parents have been warned to be on the lookout for symptoms after a rise in infections caused by the Strep A bacteria.

At least 15 children have died with an invasive form of the bacteria in recent weeks, while cases of scarlet fever, which is caused by Strep A infection, have skyrocketed.

Concern has been raised as cases are higher than usual for the time of year. The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), released on Thursday 8 December, showed the rise in cases had accelerated in the last fortnight.

Infections have been found across the country, with large concentrations of Strep A in southeast England, along with the northeast and northwest, reports my colleague Liam James:

Strep A cases in your area as UK infections rise 30 per cent

Infections have been found around the country, as authorities warn parents to be vigilant

Namita Singh9 December 2022 05:20
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‘No shortage’ of antibiotics in Scotland as Sturgeon issues warning

Scotland is not facing a shortage of antibiotics needed to treat Strep A, as Nicola Sturgeon stressed there was “no room for complacency” in fighting the condition.

Across the UK at least 15 children have died from complications caused by the Strep A infection – although no fatalities have been reported in Scotland.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said on Thursday there was no shortage of the drugs needed to treat the illness and was also clear that the number of cases of the infection being seen in Scotland is “not unusual”.

More in this report:

‘No shortage’ of Strep A antibiotics in Scotland as Sturgeon issues warning

Scotland’s First Minister said the situation was being monitored ‘very closely’

Namita Singh9 December 2022 05:40
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Child death from bacterial infection rise to 15

The number of children who have died from invasive Strep A illness in the UK has risen to 15, health officials have confirmed.

The Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has recorded 13 fatalities linked to the bacterial infection in England, while one child has died in Northern Ireland and another in Wales.

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.

Emily Atkinson reports:

Strep A: Child deaths from bacterial infection in UK rise to 15

UKHSA data shows fatalities in England have surged to 13

Namita Singh9 December 2022 06:00
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Record delays in A&E as NHS warned over Strep A pressures

Patients across England have faced record A&E delays as almost one third of patients more than four hours to be seen, new data shows.

The number of patients seen within four hours in A&E dropped to 68.9 percent in November, the lowest since records began.

Meanwhile, the number of people waiting for NHS care hit a new high of 7.2 million in October, up from 7.1 million the previous month.

Our health correspondent Rebecca Thomas reports:

Record delays in A&E as NHS warned over Strep A pressures

‘The health service really is facing the toughest pressures since modern records began’ says Danielle Jefferies from the King’s Fund

Namita Singh9 December 2022 06:20
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Pharmacies in England may see shortage of Strep A antibiotic even as despite enough stocks nationally

Chief pharmaceutical officer in England David Webb warned that some local pharmacies might observe a shortage of Strep A antibiotics, as infections spike but added that at a national level, there were “sufficient” stocks.

“Local pharmacy teams may be experiencing a temporary interruption of supply of some relevant antibiotics due to increased demand. On a national level, sufficient stock exists for the NHS,” he was quoted as saying by Sky News.

Scanning electron micrograph of Group A Streptococcus

The reports of shortage come as UK Health Security Adency reported the death of 15 children from the infection.

The illness from Strep A includes scarlet fever, strep throat and skin infection impetigo.

Namita Singh9 December 2022 06:40
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What are the symptoms to lookout for?

At least 15 children in the UK have died in recent weeks as a result of an outbreak of Group A Streptococcus, a potentially deadly bacterial infection more commonly known as Strep A.

The bacteria, Streptococcus pyogenes, can linger in the throat and on the skin and cause many different illnesses if transmitted through sneezing or physical contact, including impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

Parents have been urged by schools to be on the lookout for symptoms including persistent fever, cellulitis and arthritis and warned that children who have previously had chickenpox or flu could be more vulnerable to the infection than others.

Image of Streptococcus taken from a microscope

Families with concerns have been advised to contact their GP or call NHS 111 if their child falls ill or feels unwell, to keep them off school until they are better, to practise good hand hygiene and use tissues to shield coughs and colds.

There is no vaccine to guard against Strep A or scarlet fever, although in the former case, several have reportedly been through early-stage clinical trials and research into the matter has been ongoing since the 1940s.

Speaking on Radio 4, Professor Adam Finn, of the University of Bristol, said Strep A had been neglected in terms of vaccine development.

We don’t see so much of it as we did historically [but] it’s something that we do see quite frequently in little bursts as the years go by. There is a desperate need to make a vaccine against this bug. It’s a very neglected bug, it causes a lot of problems, the most notable of which is rheumatic fever, which is a problem in many children in poor countries.

Professor Adam Finn

Antibiotics are usually the first line of defence against Strep A infections, although health secretary Steve Barclay has been forced to deny that the UK is facing a supply issue concerning them while conceding that GPs might face shortages as stock is moved around.

Namita Singh9 December 2022 07:03
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Good hygiene important to fight the spread of Strep A

Dr Nick Phin, director of public health science at PHS, stressed the importance of good hygiene.

“The bacteria causing scarlet fever, and related infections, is usually found in the throat and on the skin. We would, therefore, encourage adults to ensure children wash their hands frequently with soap and water, and to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and then put the used tissue in the bin.

“These simple actions can help to reduce the spread of common infections like Group A Strep.”

He added: “If your child is showing signs of scarlet fever, please seek advice from a health professional as most cases respond promptly to early treatment with antibiotics.”

Symptoms of scarlet fever include headaches, a sore throat, high temperature and raised pink/purple spots that join up to produce a skin rash, which feels like sandpaper to the touch.

Namita Singh9 December 2022 07:20

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