Currently, across the United Kingdom, there is a serious rise in Strep A infections in primary schools. Already 13 children under 15 years old have died from the infection. One little girl fighting for her life in the hospital is five-year-old Farah from Northern Ireland. Her mother is warning other parents to ensure they know the symptoms to help keep their kids safe.
Little Girl Fighting Strep A Infection In Northern Ireland Hospital
Five-year-old Farah Rooney had been sick on and off for a couple of months before, finally, her health took a downturn. Her mother, Laura, took her to the hospital in November, where doctors diagnosed her with a Strep A infection and pneumonia. Farah is currently battling a bad rash as well as a fever caused by the infection. The doctors have put her on five different antibiotics since she entered the hospital, and still, they can’t figure out the source of this new rash that she has. (1)
Farah isn’t the only child in Northern Ireland suffering from the illness. Sadly, five-year-old Stella-Lily McCorkindale passed away after being rushed to the hospital with a Strep A infection on Monday. The little girl became sick, and very quickly, things turned for the worst. Unfortunately, despite the hospital’s best efforts, she succumbed to the illness. (2)
Are Lockdowns To Blame?
Many doctors and specialists are saying that the current uptick in Strep A infections in children in the UK are likely because of the lockdowns. Each school year in the winter children normally receive a natural immune system boost simply from being around other children and in close quarters with them. For the last two school years, because of the COVID lockdowns, that didn’t happen. Their immune systems are now less prepared and more susceptible to other illnesses. (3)
“As we will all be aware over recent years we have had much less social mixing than ever seen and are moving back into high levels of social mixing. That may give more opportunity for Group A Strep to transmit because it is spread through respiratory droplets through coughing, sneezing, and touch,” said Dr. Philip Veale. “Another theory is that it may reflect changes in children and adults – but particularly children’s natural immunity coming out of two years of relative isolation. The immune system is stimulated and grows and develops through exposure through a range of viruses and infections and we now have a cohort of children that have been exposed to less infections than would be the norm.” (4)
Most cases are mild and only result in a rash and/or mild fever. It is, however, highly contagious. Doctors are asking parents to please keep sick children at home in hopes of minimizing the spread as best we can and preventing as many serious cases as possible.
Strep A And What To Look For
Strep A is a sore throat or skin infection that is usually easily treated with antibiotics. Typical symptoms include fever, a sore throat, swollen glands, muscle aches, and a rash. The rash is scarlet fever that usually causes the skin to feel like sandpaper and comes along with flu-like symptoms, such as high fever.
These are the most common symptoms, and as already mentioned, usually, the case is mild. In some rare cases, however, Strep A can cause invasive group A streptococcal infection or iGAS. This infection can be deadly. In this case, a sick child will suddenly deteriorate extremely quickly. If this happens, they must get to the hospital as soon as possible. According to the BBC you should contact your family doctor if you notice the following of your child:
- your child is getting worse
- your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
- your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
- your baby is under three months old and has a temperature of 38°C, or is older than three months and has a temperature of 39°C or higher
- your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
- your child is very tired or irritable
Take your child to the emergency room if you notice:
- your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
- there are pauses when your child breathes
- your child’s skin, tongue, or lips are blue
- your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake
There are treatments available for this infection. The sooner your child sees a doctor, the better their chances of recovery. Don’t wait until it is too late. If you think your child needs medical attention, seek it out. Their life could depend on it.
Keep Reading: ‘Very Unusual’ Rise in Cases of Severe Liver Damage Seen in Children Across UK, US, and Europe
- “Mother of girl, 5, in hospital after contracting ‘Streptococcus A’ warns parents to know symptom” iTV News. December 5, 2022.
- “Strep A: Five-year-old girl dies from illness linked to bacterial infection” BBC. December 6, 2022.
- “Strep A in schools: EA statement as PHA letters circulated to NI parents and teachers” Belfast Live. December 9, 2022.
- “Strep A Northern Ireland: Covid-19 pandemic Lockdowns may have hit children’s immune systems says top doctor” News Letter. December 9, 2022.