Despite life-threatening complications being rare, 15 children have now died from Strep A in Britain since September. Health experts stress the bacterial infection doesn’t usually cause severe disease but warn symptom awareness is front and centre. Fortunately, lymphadenitis, which is considered a very common sign, could help identify the culprit.
Strep A, also known as Group A Streptococcus, describes bacteria most commonly found in the throat and nose.
The bacterial infection can trigger a number of problems, ranging from scarlet fever to tonsillitis.
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.
“However, in most cases health issues caused by Strep A are mild.”
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the “most common” symptom of Strep A is lymphadenitis.
Lymphadenitis, or swollen lymph nodes, describes the enlargement in one or more glands in the front of the neck.
Lymph nodes are packed with white blood cells that help your body fight infections. These glands usually become infected because of an infection that started somewhere else in your body.
Oher Strep A symptoms
Other red flag symptoms that can crop up around this area are swollen tonsils, sore throat and white spots or streaks of pus at the back of the throat.
Mr Khosla 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.”
How dangerous is strep A?
While life-threatening complications are rare, the bacteria can penetrate the blood and stir up serious problems.
Duncan Reid, Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, said: “In very rare occasions, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive Group A strep (iGAS).
“While still uncommon, there has been an increase in invasive Group A strep cases this year, particularly in children under 10.”
What is the main Strep A treatment?
The main treatment for the bacterial infection is antibiotics which can help you or your child get better quicker and reduce your risk of serious problems.
However, nine types of drugs routinely prescribed are reportedly in short supply. Many antibiotics running short are liquid formulas.
New NHS guidance says that solid antibiotics can be sprinkled on food and given to children if the liquid versions are out of stock.
The Prime Minister has insisted there is no shortage as the bacterial infection continues to roam through the UK.