A heartbroken father took his young daughter to A&E three times before she was admitted to an intensive care unit where she died from Strep A.
Stella-Lily McCorkindale, five, became the UK’s ninth known victim after developing life-threatening complications to the usually mild infection, amid a rise in cases nationwide.
Her dad Robert says he took her to see medics three days in a row from Monday, November 28, after she started feeling unwell on the Saturday.
On their first visit, he recalled being made to feel like an ‘overbearing father’ and advised to keep the schoolgirl hydrated with Lucozade.
He said they were similarly sent home again following the second trip before Stella-Lily was rushed back a third time after saying: ‘Mummy, I feel like I’m dying.’
After telling medics he would not be sent away a third time without seeing a doctor, Mr McCorkindale said tests quickly revealed a chest infection.
Within a few more hours, blood tests came back confirming she had Strep A.
Mr McCorkindale told the Mirror Stella-Lily’s condition deteriorated rapidly from that point, and described how she died for five minutes and had to be revived on the Thursday.
He said she was then kept in an induced coma so she could be given the necessary antibiotics, but by Monday ‘it was time to go sleep and they took her off everything’.
The distraught father told the newspaper medics went ‘above and beyond’ for his daughter once she was admitted.
But he added: ‘They should have tested her for Strep A on the Monday [November 28], by the time they induced her Stella had given up.
‘I think she would have had two extra days of fighting.’
A spokesman for Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children said: ‘We send our deepest condolences to the McCorkindale family following the passing of Stella-Lilly.
‘Every aspect of the care Stella-Lily received is being carefully reviewed.
‘The death of a child is a heart-breaking event for family and friends and in such tragic circumstances we give the family space to grieve.
‘Hospital management will be available to meet Stella-Lily’s family at a time that suits them. Our thoughts are with them at this incredibly sad time.’
What is Strep A?
Strep A can cause a lot of different illnesses, but tends to start off with a few typical mild symptoms.
Strep throat is different from a regular sore throat and the pain can come on very quickly.
Symptoms include pain when swallowing, fever, and red and swollen tonsils – sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus.
The NHS recommends people see their GP if a sore throat does not improve after a week, if they are worried or if they have a high temperature, or feel hot and shivery, which is the sign of a more serious infection.
People with weakened immune systems such as those having chemotherapy should also see a doctor.
Impetigo is a skin infection which starts with red sores or blisters that then burst, leaving crusty, golden patches. The infection can be treated with antibiotics.
Scarlet fever symptoms are often flu-like, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands.
A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later, starting on the chest and stomach and then spreading.
A white coating also appears on the tongue which peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in little bumps (often called ‘strawberry tongue’).
Signs of necrotising fasciitis include fever (a high temperature above 38°C), severe pain and swelling, and redness at the wound site.
Early signs and symptoms of toxic shock may include fever, dizziness, confusion, low blood pressure, rash and abdominal pain.
In a Facebook post following Stella-Lily’s death, Mr McCorkindale wrote: ‘I hope you all find the time to read this, I don’t have the strength to do a video.
‘First of all I want to thank everyone of you from the bottom of my heart.
‘If prayers, thoughts, feelings and love could have worked, she would have walked out of that hospital holding her daddy’s hand.
‘So from me and Stella-Lily, thanks all of you for all you kind prayers and thoughts and feelings we felt everyone, words can’t express our gratitude.’
Local health protection teams can give antibiotics to groups of children where there has been a Strep A outbreak, the deputy director of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.
Dr Colin Brown told Sky News there is ‘long-standing guidance’ that enables health protection teams to assess the situation in schools and nurseries to consider antibiotic prophylaxis for ‘either a group of children in certain classes or an entire nursery school’.
He reiterated there is no evidence to suggest there has been a change to the circulating strains of Strep A to make them more severe, following the deaths of at least nine children across the UK.
Dr Brown suggested that a lack of mixing due to the Covid pandemic plus susceptibility in children are probably ‘bringing forward the normal scarlet fever season’ from spring to this side of Christmas.
Updated guidance on scarlet fever outbreaks, which are caused by Strep A, published by the UKHSA in October sets out how antibiotics can be used as prophylaxis but a decision is taken with local outbreak control teams (OCTs) on ‘a case-by-case basis’.
The UKHSA has advised medics to have a low threshold for prescribing antibiotics for children who may be suffering infection linked to Strep A.
On Friday, it said GPs should also ‘maintain a low threshold for prompt referral’ to hospital of any children presenting with persistent or worsening symptoms.
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