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Scarlet fever: Doctor details symptoms of bacterial infection

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The Year One pupil from Ashford Church of England School, Kent, patanol eye drops not working died last week after battling a Group A streptococcal (iGAS) infection. One local parent said: “Parents are of course getting very concerned about this outbreak, especially as a child died last week. “It is every parent’s worst nightmare. We are being told to keep sending our kids into school…

“But it feels incredibly risky given there are now at least four cases in the local area at two different schools.”

Group A streptococcal infections are caused by bacteria that “colonise the throat, skin and anogenital tract”, the NHS says.

“It causes a diverse range of skin, soft tissue and respiratory tract infections,” the health body adds.

The Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria can lead to:

  • Tonsillitis
  • Sore throat
  • Scarlet fever
  • Impetigo
  • Erysipelas
  • Cellulitis
  • Pneumonia.

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Post-streptococcal complications can include: rheumatic fever and glomerulonephritis.

The bacteria “can occasionally cause infections that are extremely severe”.

Invasive Group A Streptococcus (iGAS) “is an infection where the bacteria are isolated from a normally sterile body site, such as the blood”.

The bacteria can spread by close contact between individuals, through respiratory droplets and direct skin contact.

“It can also be transmitted environmentally, through contact with contaminated objects, such as towels or bedding or ingestion of food inoculated by a carrier,” the NHS notes.

Dr Claire Winslade, health protection consultant at UKHSA South East, commented on the outbreak.

“We are extremely saddened to hear about the death of a pupil at Ashford Church of England School,” said Dr Winslade.

“And our thoughts are with their family, friends and the school community.

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“As a precautionary measure, we have recommended antibiotics to pupils and staff in the same year groups as the individuals affected.

“We have provided advice to the school to help prevent further cases and will continue to monitor the situation.”

The symptoms of iGAS, said Dr Winslade, include:

  • High fever
  • Severe muscle aches
  • Pain in one area of the body
  • Unexplained vomiting
  • Unexplained diarrhoea

“Anyone with these symptoms should call NHS111 immediately,” Dr Winslade advised.

Dr Winslade continued: “Infection with Group A Streptococcus bacterium usually causes a sore throat or skin rash.

“In very rare cases, the infection can become invasive and enter parts of the body where bacteria aren’t normally found, which can be serious.”

Common signs and symptoms of Scarlett fever, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), include:

  • Very red, sore throat
  • Fever (101°F or higher) or chills
  • Whitish coating on the tongue early in the illness
  • “Strawberry” (red and bumpy) tongue
  • Red skin rash that has a sandpaper feel
  • Bright red skin in the creases of the underarm, elbow, and groin
  • Swollen glands in the neck.

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