Strep A in England: where has the highest rate of invasive Group A Strep infections - regions and cases listed

Nine children have died in the UK in recent weeks after contracting Strep A. Official figures show the regions of England where infection rates are highest.

Rates of invasive Group A strep are four times higher than usual among children aged one to four, figures for England show.

At least nine children across the UK have died following Strep A infections in recent weeks. Parents concerned about a seriously ill child should seek medical advice, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.

The invasive condition is caused by a bacteria called group A streptococci, or Strep A, which usually causes mild or moderate illnesses such as strep throat and scarlet fever. In very rare occasions, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause invasive Group A strep (iGAS), which can be deadly.

Across England, rates of iGAS have risen most dramatically among children aged one to four, with 2.3 cases per 100,000 - four times higher than the average rates in the three years to March 2020, before coronavirus restrictions.

And infection rates among children aged five to nine have tripled compared to this three-year average.

Health officials are urging GPs to act quickly to prescribe antibiotics to poorly children, but say there is currently no evidence that a new strain is circulating, putting the rise down instead to increased social mixing.

Dr Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, said iGAS was “still uncommon” but urged parents to be on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor quickly so they can stop the infection becoming serious.

He said: “Make sure you talk to a health professional if your child is showing signs of deteriorating after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.”

Parents are advised to call 999 or go to A&E if their child is having difficulty breathing, there are pauses when their child breathes, the skin, tongue or lips are blue or the child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.

The figures published by the UKHSA on Friday also show the number of cases of iGAS in each region of England, as well as the rate per 100,000 people. The figures cover the 10 weeks to November 20.

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