By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is reporting increases in scarlet fever and invasive Group A strep (iGAS) this year.

Image/dinky123uk

Concerning scarlet fever, following higher than expected scarlet fever activity in the summer in England, with a drop during August, notifications during the early part of the current season (2022 to 2023; seasons are defined from mid-September to mid-September) are increasing again and remain above what is normally seen at this time of year.

A total of 4,622 notifications of scarlet fever were received from week 37 to 46 this season (2022 to 2023) in England, with 851 notifications received in week 46. This compares with an average of 1,294 (range 258 to 2,008) for this same period (weeks 37 to 46) in the previous 5 years.

Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria called group A streptococci. These bacteria also cause other respiratory and skin infections such as strep throat and impetigo.

Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious. Therefore, look out for symptoms in your child, which include a sore throat, headache, and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel. On darker skin, the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have a sandpapery feel. Contact NHS 111 or your GP if you suspect your child has scarlet fever, because early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection. If your child has scarlet fever, keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

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In addition, group A streptococci can sometimes (rare) 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. So far this season there have been 509 notifications of iGAS disease reported through laboratory surveillance in England

There have also been 5 recorded deaths within 7 days of an iGAS diagnosis in children under 10 in England. During the last high season for Group A Strep infection (2017 to 2018) there were 4 deaths in children under 10 in the equivalent period.

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