Tuesday 16 July 2024
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UKHSA update on scarlet fever and invasive group A strep

Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on scarlet fever and invasive group A strep cases.

Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) continues to show an out-of-season increase in scarlet fever and group A streptococcus infections and a higher number of cases than seen in a typical year.

So far this season (from 19 September to 25 December) there have been 33,836 notifications of scarlet fever. This compares to a total of 4,672 at the same point in the year during the last comparably high season in 2017 to 2018 – although cases in that season started to rise at a different point. In 2017 to 2018 there were 30,768 scarlet fever notifications overall across the year.

Invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS) infections remain rare. So far this season, there have been 151 iGAS cases in children aged 1 to 4 compared to 194 cases in that age group across the whole year of the last comparably high season in 2017 to 2018.

There have been 102 cases in children aged 5 to 9 years compared to 117 across the whole year of the last comparably high season in 2017 to 2018. The majority of iGAS cases continue to be in those over 45 years.

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Sadly, so far this season there have been 122 deaths across all age groups in England. This figure includes 25 children under 18 in England. In the 2017 to 2018 season, there were 355 deaths in total across the season, including 27 deaths in children under 18.

Dr Obaghe Edeghere, UKHSA incident director, said:

“We are continuing to see a rise in scarlet fever and ‘strep throat’ and this is understandably concerning for parents. However, I would stress that the condition can be easily treated with antibiotics and it is very rare that a child will go on to become more seriously ill.

Over the winter, there are lots of illnesses circulating that can make children unwell and so it is important to avoid contact with other people if you are feeling unwell, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue. I would also urge all those eligible for free winter vaccines to take advantage of these

“Most winter illnesses can be managed at home and NHS.UK has information to help parents look after children with mild illnesses. However please do make sure you speak to a healthcare professional if you believe your child is getting worse for instance they are feeding or eating less than normal, are dehydrated, have a high temperature that won’t go down, is very hot and sweaty or seems more tired or irritable than normal.”

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