Boy, 12, dies from invasive Strep A 'becoming UK's oldest victim'

A 12-year-old boy in in south-east London has died after contracting Strep A, it has been reported.

The student at the private Colfe’s School in Lewisham is believed to be the oldest victim of the invasive infection this winter, prompting fears of an outbreak.

He had blood poisoning caused by the invasive Group A Strep – a sometimes life-threatening infection in which the bacteria invades parts of the body.

At least six children are now known to have died from the illness in recent weeks, but they were all under the age of 10.

Headmaster, Richard Russell, wrote to concerned parents as another student from Colfe’s School is currently in hospital.

In a letter seen by the Sun, he described the boy’s death as a ‘huge shock’, but also assured families the risk to their children was still low.

‘We have taken advice from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA),’ Mr Russell wrote.

‘Blood tests identified the student had blood poisoning (septicaemia) caused by Group A streptococcus (GAS), which led to invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS).

‘The GAS bacterium is very common and usually causes mild illness such as scarlet fever, which can be treated with antibiotics.

‘However, in very rare circumstances it can be complicated by other ­infections and get into the bloodstream – becoming invasive and causing blood poisoning.’

Meanwhile, a four-year-old girl is fighting for her life against Strep A at a hospital in Liverpool.

Camila Rose Burns has been hooked up to ventilators since Monday after catching the infection.

Experts argue such cases are ‘very rare’, but the number of patients contracting Strep A has been increasing each year since 2014.

Dr Nicole Robb, virologist professor at Oxford and Warwick Universities, warned ‘we have what could be described as a perfect storm for respiratory disease at the moment’.

She said: ‘These illnesses are seasonal so it is usual to see an increase in cases during winter months.

‘But this may be exacerbated because during the Covid lockdowns we all “lost” immunity as our exposure to day to day bugs was almost non-existent.

‘That’s why young children are most at risk from Strep and other infections.

‘There are many who have never been exposed to the same bugs that we were as children and so their bodies have not learned to cope.’

As a result, Dr Robb called for more testing in the community – at home and at pharmacies – to take the strain off GPs and hospitals. 

UKHSA did not comment on the death of the 12-year-old boy but Dr Colin Brown, deputy director, urged parents to be on the lookout for symptoms.

He confirmed there a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year than usual. 

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