Strep A UK: father’s warning as girl, 4, with Strep A ‘fighting for her life’

The girl’s condition got worse over the weekend

The father of a four-year-old girl with a Strep A infection who is on a ventilator said she was described as “the poorliest girl in the whole of England”.

Camila Rose Burns is “fighting for her life” – while her family has been “living in an absolute nightmare” since she was admitted to Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, her father said. Dean Burns said his daughter’s condition got worse over last weekend and Camila went from dancing on Friday (25 November) night with her friends to feeling “a little bit under the weather on Saturday (26 November)” and needing emergency care on Monday (28 November).

Health experts are investigating cases of StrepA infection after the deaths of six young children and a rise in cases. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said there has been a rise in rare invasive Group Astrep this year, particularly in children under 10, with five deaths of under-10s in England since September.

A separate case has been reported in Wales, taking the known UK total to six.

What has the girl’s father said?

Mr Burns, of Bolton, told Sky News: “When we got here Monday, they said she’s the poorliest girl in the whole of England. To go from dancing on Friday night with her friends to a little bit under the weather on Saturday and then a bit more bad on Sunday, she’s basically not the same girl any more. It’s heartbreaking.”

There was a sickness bug going around Camila’s school and she complained about her chest hurting, Mr Burns said.

Camila was taken to hospital last Saturday where she was prescribed an inhaler and told she could go home – but her health deteriorated a day later.

Mr Burns told Sky News: “She just completely changed. She was restless.” After being taken back to hospital, Camila needed life-saving intervention.

Mr Burns said: “We shouted some nurses down and we had to leave the room. They put her to sleep and she’s been on a ventilator ever since, keeping her alive. It’s the worst thing that can ever happen to anybody.”

The father, who feels parents should act quickly if they see their child is sick, added: “When I look back, it still just seemed like a sickness bug. She was really lethargic at times but her health was improving until she completely changed.”

Alder Hey Children's Hospital

When should you seek medical help?

Health officials are urging parents to contact NHS 111 or their GP if their child is getting worse, is feeding or eating much less than normal, has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration. They should also seek help if their baby is under three months and has a temperature of 38C, or is older than three months with a temperature of 39C or higher.

A very tired or irritable child is also a red flag. If their child is having difficulty breathing (by making grunting noises or sucking their stomach in under their ribs) or pauses in breathing, has blue skin, tongue or lips, or is floppy and unresponsive, parents should call 999 or go to A&E.

What has UKHSA said?

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases. Illnesses include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria causes a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease. According to UKHSA data, there have been 2.3 cases of invasive disease per 100,000 children aged one to four this year in England, compared with an average of 0.5 in the pre-pandemic seasons (2017 to 2019).

There have also been 1.1 cases per 100,000 children aged five to nine compared with the pre-pandemic average of 0.3 (2017 to 2019). When looking at the five deaths in England, the last time there was an intensive period of Strep A infection was in 2017/18, when there were four deaths in the equivalent time frame.

The UKHSA said investigations are also under way following reports of an increase in lower respiratory tract Group A Strep infections in children over the past few weeks, which have caused severe illness.