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Strep A hotspots REVEALED: Cases of scarlet fever – an illness only caused by the bacterial infection – are highest on the Isle of Wight… so how many kids have been struck down in YOUR area?

  • EXCLUSIVE: Isle of Wight saw the most scarlet fever cases as of December 4 
  • Some 1,131 infections were spotted in England and Wales in the same week
  • READ MORE: Health Secretary Steve Barclay insists there is no drugs shortage
  • Experts call for return of face masks in classrooms to curb the spread of Strep A

England and Wales’ scarlet fever hotspots were today named as fears grow over the ongoing Strep A outbreak which has killed nine children.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show 1,131 cases of the illness — which can only be caused by the bacterial infection — were spotted across both countries last week.

It was up 14 per cent on the previous week’s toll, and roughly five times above levels normally seen at this time of the year. 

The Isle of Wight saw the most scarlet fever cases, with 32 recorded over the week, MailOnline can reveal.

The Isle of Wight saw the most scarlet fever infection infections, with 32 recorded over the week ending December 4, MailOnline can reveal

What is Strep A?

Group A Streptococcus (Group A Strep or Strep A) bacteria can cause many different infections.

The bacteria are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, testosterone leveals and some people have no symptoms.

Infections caused by Strep A range from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases.

They include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause an illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

What is invasive Group A Streptococcal disease?

Invasive Group A Strep disease is sometimes a life-threatening infection in which the bacteria have invaded parts of the body, such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs.

Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

Necrotising fasciitis is also known as the ‘flesh-eating disease’ and can occur if a wound gets infected.

Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is a rapidly progressing infection causing low blood pressure/shock and damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver and lungs.

This type of toxic shock has a high death rate.

READ MAILONLINE’S FULL Q&A ON STREP A. 

Not every Strep A infection causes scarlet fever, but the illness — more common in children — provides doctors with a good indicator of how the bacteria is spreading. 

UKHSA data, for the week ending December 4, shows after the Isle of Wight, Leeds recorded the most cases (22).

It was followed by Allerdale in Cumbria (20), County Durham (18) and Liverpool (16). 

Some 29 of England and Wales’s 348 local authorities recorded double-figure cases for the week.

Ninety-one areas did not record a single case, with most of the South West and Kent unaffected by the outbreak so far. 

However, the data will not include all scarlet fever cases that occurred because not all children will have been seen by a doctor to be diagnosed. 

The vast majority of Strep A infections are relatively mild and are easily treated with antibiotics.

Yet, in exceptionally rare cases, the bacteria can penetrate deeper into the body or blood and cause life-threatening complications, or invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS).

  • Will FACE MASKS creep back into classrooms amid Strep A outbreak? Expert calls for return of Covid-era curbs to thwart bug that has killed 9 children – as parents are told to keep any kid with sore throat OFF school

Both scarlet fever and iGAS are notifiable diseases, which means doctors have a statutory duty to report cases to health authorities. 

It comes as the Health Secretary Stephen Barclay was today forced to deny the UK is running low on the drugs amid fears supplies were running out. 

Mr Barclay claimed he is in ‘close contact’ with suppliers and none have informed him that stocks of the key drugs — given to children with the illness or its symptoms — are low, something they are duty-bound to do. 

He added that ‘we have good supply’ but the country’s medicine stocks are being kept under ‘constant review’.

Pharmacy bosses previously warned there are ‘no drugs’ available, with blips in the supply chain expected to rumble on until into 2023. 

Parents scrambling to find drugs have even been turned away from chemists due to a lack of supplies.

Discussing the ongoing outbreak on GB News, Mr Barclay said: ‘We’re in very close contact with our medical suppliers.

‘They’re under a duty to notify us if there are supply shortages. They have not done so as yet.

‘Clearly we keep this under constant review. We have a team within the department that is always looking at medical supplies and these issues.’

Phenoxymethylpenicillin, amoxicillin and clarithromycin are three antibiotics used to treat Strep A, with the drugs given through an IV drip in severe cases.

The UKHSA told doctors to have a ‘low threshold’ for prescribing antibiotics to youngsters who have suspected Strep A. 

It also advised GPs to ‘maintain a low threshold for prompt referral’ to hospital of any children with persistent or worsening symptoms. 

The drugs are used to treat the myriad of infections that Strep A bacteria can cause, including the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

This map shows the rates of  invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS), a serious form of Strep A infection in England’s regions. Rates are cases per 100,000 people with the outbreak highest in Yorkshire and the Humber and lowest in the East of England

Cases of scarlet fever, a potential complication of strep A infections are also on the rise this year (thin grey line) compared to others. Source: UKHSA

The number serious infections from Strep A in England for this time year (thin green line) is far higher than pre-pandemic seasons. The current number of total cases is also much higher than the peaks of every year except 2017/18 (thin blue line). Source: UKHSA

To date, at least nine children across the UK have died from complications caused by the Strep A infection since September. The most recent death reported was Stella-Lilly McCorkindale (pictured) in Belfast who attended Black Mountain Primary School

Steve Barclay insists there is no shortage of antibiotics amid Strep A outbreak 

Steve Barclay said he is in ‘close contact’ with suppliers and none have informed him that there are too few antibiotics — something they are duty-bound to do

Britain is not running low on antibiotics, the Health Secretary insisted today as fears grow over the ongoing Strep A outbreak which has killed nine children so far. 

Steve Barclay claimed he is in ‘close contact’ with suppliers and none have informed him that stocks of the key drugs — given to kids with the illness or generic symptoms potentially triggered by the bug — are low, something they are duty-bound to do. 

Mr Barclay added that ‘we have good supply’ but the country’s medicine stocks are being kept under ‘constant review’.

It comes as pharmacy bosses have warned there are ‘no drugs’ available, with blips in the supply chain expected to rumble on until into 2023. Parents scrambling to find drugs have even been turned away from chemists due to a lack of supplies.

Discussing the ongoing outbreak on GB News, Mr Barclay said: ‘We’re in very close contact with our medical suppliers.

‘They’re under a duty to notify us if there are supply shortages. They have not done so as yet.

‘Clearly we keep this under constant review. We have a team within the department that is always looking at medical supplies and these issues.’

To date, at least nine children across the UK have died from complications caused by the Strep A infection since September. 

This is more than expected, health chiefs have said.

The most recent death reported was Stella-Lilly McCorkindale in Belfast who attended Black Mountain Primary School.

The spread in schools has led to one expert calling for a return to Covid-style restrictions.

Dr Stephen Griffin, an infectious disease expert at the University of Leeds, said children should wear face masks in classrooms to contain the outbreak.

He said face masks would have a ‘tremendous impact at decreasing transmission’. 

Meanwhile, parents are being told to keep children with sore throats off school. 

NHS advice on Strep A, circulated by numerous trusts over the past 24 hours, states: ‘Keep unwell children off school or nursery and away from vulnerable adults and children.’

It lists common cold and flu-like symptoms, such as a fever or large and red tonsils as being potential signs of Strep A.

If parents follow the advice, it could see tens of thousands of children off school at any one point, given such symptoms are rife in the winter.

Experts told MailOnline that the advice was ‘sound’ as those infected with Strep A risk transmitting the infection to others.

The surge in Strep A cases comes as the UK juggles a ‘tripledemic’ of Covid, flu and RSV — which can all also cause a sore throat. 

Cases of iGAS are around five times higher than expected at this point of year, compared to the pre-pandemic average.

However, the current iGAS rate has not yet surpassed the peak of previous years, which usually occurs in the spring. 

Lockdowns have been blamed for the unusually high rates, with less mixing among youngsters leaving fewer exposed to the bacteria.

And higher rates of other seasonal viruses, also a result of less mixing over the past few years, have been suggested as a reason for more children becoming severely unwell and dying. 

Experts said co-infection with another bug and the usually-harmless Strep A is likely contributing to more severe illness.

The UK Health Security Agency has insisted that the bacteria has not evolved into a super-strain that is causing children to become more unwell. 

With fears growing about the bug, there has been a surge in parents bombarding NHS services.

One GP surgery in Oxfordshire warned it is ‘in danger of being overwhelmed’, while NHS 111 call centres have been swamped by the ‘worried well’. 

Staff warned A&E units had become a ‘dangerous place’ due to ‘huge numbers’ seeking reassurance and that seriously ill cases could be missed. 

From the ‘bubbly’ seven-year-old whose father desperately tried CPR to save, to the four-year-old who loved exploring: All the victims of Strep A so far

Muhammad Ibrahim Ali

The four-year-old boy attended Oakridge School and Nursery in High Wycombe, Bucks.

He died at home from a cardiac arrest in mid-November after contracting a Strep A infection.

He was prescribed antibiotics.

His mother Shabana Kousar told the Bucks Free Press: ‘The loss is great and nothing will replace that. 

‘He was very helpful around the house and quite adventurous, he loved exploring and enjoyed the forest school, his best day was a Monday and said how Monday was the best day of the week.

Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, who attended Oakridge School and Nursery in High Wycombe, Bucks, died after contracting the bacterial infection

Hannah Roap 

The ‘bubbly’ and ‘beautiful’ seven-year-old is the only child to have died from Strep A in Wales so far.

Her devastated parents told how their ‘hearts had broken into a million pieces’. 

The first signs of the infection were mild, Hanna’s father Abul took his daughter to the GP after cough got worse overnight. 

She was prescribed steroids and sent home, but she died less than 12 hours later. 

Mr Roap recalled how he desperately tried to resuscitate his child: ‘She stopped breathing at 8pm but we were not immediately aware because she was sleeping.

‘I did CPR, I tried to revive her but it didn’t work. Paramedics arrived and continued the CPR but it was too late.’   

Mr Roap said the family was ‘utterly devastated’ and awaiting answers from the hospital.

The family believe she might have lived if she was initially given antibiotics. 

Hanna Roap, who attended Victoria Primary School in Penarth, Wales, died after contracting Strep A last month. Her family say they have been ‘traumatised’ by her death

Stella-Lily McCorkindale

Five-year-old Stella-Lily McCokindale is the ninth British child to have died following a Strep A infection, and the first in Northern Ireland. 

She died on December 5 at Royal Belfast Hospital.

In a tribute on social media, her father Robert said the pair had ‘loved every minute’ of being together as they went on scooter and bike rides.

‘If prays, thoughts, feelings and love could of worked she would of walked out of that hospital holding her daddy’s hand,’ he said.  

Stella attended Black Mountain Primary School, who said she was ‘a bright and talented little girl’ and described her death as a ‘tragic loss’. 

Five-year-old Stella-Lily McCokindale who attended Black Mountain Primary School in Belfast died in early December after contracting Strep A

Four of the six other deaths include:

  • An unidentified six-year-old pupil who attended Ashford Church of England Primary School in England in Surrey.
  • A primary school pupil who attended St John’s School in Ealing, west London. 
  • A 12-year-old boy attending Colfe’s School in Lewisham, south east London. 
  • An unidentified child at Morelands Primary School in Waterlooville.

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