Since school started back in September, strep A cases and strep A deaths among young children in the UK have been far higher than usual. On December 1, a five year old boy passed away from the disease. This was despite his family seeking medical care for him three times. He is now one of 16 children in the UK who have died from strep A.
Strep A Deaths Continue To Increase In The United Kingdom
On December 1, five-year-old Jax Albert Jefferys from the UK tragically passed away from a step A infection. His family only found out that is what he actually had after he died. They say they took him in to receive medical care three times before he died, where doctors mistakenly diagnosed him with having influenza. Little Jax is now one of 16 strep A deaths in the country.
Doctors are saying that they are seeing a steep increase in cases of strep A than they saw this time of year prior to the pandemic, both in the UK and across Europe. When Jax first got sick, his parents took him to the doctor, who misdiagnosed the boy with having the flu. They followed the recommended course of action, but Jax’s condition only worsened. (1)
“On the fourth day Jax’s condition deteriorated so much that we rushed him to hospital and by 10 o’clock on the Thursday evening of the 1st December he had passed away,” his mother said. “Only after his death was it confirmed that the cause was the Strep A. We would dearly like to express our deepest thanks to all the hospital staff who did their utmost to save Jax.”
His mother says their son, the youngest of four with three older sisters, was definitely spoiled. She describes him as cheeky and mischievous with lots of friends. Her husband and Jax’s father is a member of the military and has been granted leave to grieve with his family. He will return whenever he feels ready and fit to do so. The family have asked for privacy and for no one to send any cards or flowers just yet while attempting to come to terms with their loss.
The Strep A Problem
Data from the UK Health Security Agency suggests that the rate of strep A infections in UK children right now is up to five times higher at this point than in the last “bad year” that they had. Experts say that there is usually a rise in cases every three to four years, but they believe it is worse this time around because of the COVID pandemic isolation. They say that social distancing has likely reduced some children’s immunity to the illness. The World Health Organization has also said that higher rates of upper respiratory infections this year are complicating strep A infections. These are putting children at higher risk of having a co-infection with strep A, which makes them more susceptible to severe illness.
Strep A: Symptoms and How It Works
Strep A bacteria are usually found on the skin or in the throat. They can be passed via touch or by coughing and sneezing. Some will have the bacteria but won’t get sick and, therefore, will not show symptoms; however, they can still spread the illness. Most cases are mild; however, they can be serious and even deadly for some. Serious illnesses that strep A can cause are the skin infection, impetigo, scarlet fever, and strep throat. (2)
Two rare, but also most severe forms are part of what’s called invasive group A streptococcal disease and are life-threatening infections in which the bacteria invade other parts of the body. They are called necrotizing fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. Necrotizing fasciitis is also known as flesh-eating disease. In contrast, toxic shock syndrome is a rapidly working disease that lowers blood pressure greatly and damages important organs such as the kidney, liver, and lungs.
Symptoms of Strep A include a rash, sore throat, flushed, skin sores, muscle aches, and fever. Typically the symptoms will last for about a week. It usually takes two to five days after being exposed to show symptoms. As already mentioned, you can be carrying the bacteria but not have symptoms.
If you think that your child may have strep A, take them to the doctor. For skin infections, they will usually prescribe a topical antibiotic. For other kinds of infections, depending on the severity, they will give a different kind of treatment. If your child gets noticeably worse, especially if it is sudden, go straight to the emergency room.
Keep Reading: Mother of 5-Year-Old Girl with ‘Strep-A’ Warns Parents to Know the Symptoms
- “Boy, 5, who died of Strep A in Britain’s growing outbreak was misdiagnosed with FLU as family claim they sought medical help THREE times before he was taken to hospital with killer bug.” Daily Mail. Joe Davies. December 14, 2022.
- “What are the symptoms of Strep A? How does it spread? And is it the same as scarlet fever? Everything you need to know about the killer bug sweeping Britain.” Daily mail. Rebecca Whittaker. December 2, 2022.