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Five more children die from Strep A as death toll rises to 24

New data has revealed that five more children have died from Strep A since September.

The death toll from the outbreak has now risen to 24.

Victims include Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, an ‘adventurous’ four-year-old boy from Buckinghamshire, and Stella-Lily McCorkindale, 5, from Belfast, who was her parents’ ‘sunshine’.

Scotland remains the only country in the UK not to have recorded a fatality from Strep A since September.

New figures 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.

Scarlet fever infections – caused by Strep A – continues to soar in England, with 94 deaths across all age groups since September.

An update from the UKHSA reads: ‘Notifications and GP consultations of scarlet fever in England are currently showing exceptional levels of activity during this early point in the season further to public and healthcare professional alerts issued on December 2, 2022.

‘Notifications of invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS) disease also remain higher than expected for this time of year but within range of past peak activity.

‘Medical practitioners have been alerted to this early increase in incidence and elevated iGAS infection in children.

‘Given the potential for severe presentations, scarlet fever cases should be treated promptly with antibiotics to limit further spread and reduce risk of potential complications in cases and their close contacts.’

Group A Streptococcus is the name given to a type of bacteria sometimes found in the throat or on the skin.

It usually causes mild illness, like a sore throat and skin infection, and most people carry it without any symptoms.

Rarely though, these bacteria can cause severe and life-threatening illness, invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

It comes as the number of patients in hospital with flu in England has ‘skyrocketed’ while Strep A is driving ‘near record’ demand for NHS 111 services, new data suggests.

An average of 1,939 people with flu were in hospital each day last week, up 67% on 1,162 the previous week, according to NHS England.

This is also a sharp increase on the daily average of 482 at the end of November.

Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive at NHS Providers, said: ‘Trust leaders are expecting this Christmas to be one of their darkest to date.

‘As they work hard to mitigate the impact of ongoing strike action, they are also having to contend with an incredibly long list of other serious challenges.

‘The number of flu patients in hospital has jumped up by two-thirds in the last week.

‘More patients are also staying longer in hospital due to greater severity of illness and delayed discharges, which remain a real concern and puts a massive strain on the entire health and care system, including community care and social services.’

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