Two more people have died in Scotland having contracted invasive Strep A.
This brings the total number to have died to 19 – a new high for the seasonal outbreak. Three of these were children under ten.
No more than 15 people have died during the same period in previous years.
All but one of the Scotland’s 14 health boards have reported infections with overall case numbers well beyond those seen in previous years.
The NHS has faced extreme pressure as it deals with the Strep A outbreak, extraordinary levels of flu and the continuing prevalence of Covid-19.
However, in Public Health Scotland’s (PHS) latest report, cases have decreased.
PHS said that although increases were reported in recent weeks in Scotland, infections levels were “generally stable and similar to previous years”.
The notice read: “PHS is aware of 19 deaths amongst iGAS (invasive Group A Streptococcus) cases that appear to meet the case definition between October 3 and January 22, 2023, an increase of two deaths since the previous report.
“Three of these deaths were in children under ten years of age, none new since the previous report.
“This compares with between zero and 15 deaths reported during the same time period of previous years.”
Strep A is spread by close contact between people, through respiratory droplets and direct skin contact.
It can also be transmitted environmentally, through contact with contaminated objects, such as towels or bedding or ingestion of food inoculated by a carrier.
The public has been advised to be alert for symptoms of illnesses caused by Group A Streptococcus and contact their GP or out-of-hours doctor to help stop an infection becoming serious.
Pharmacists have been warned that a serious increase in demand for the medications may mean they are “temporarily in limited supply at certain wholesalers and pharmacies”.