An eighth child has died in England and Wales as a result of a Strep A infection amid warnings across the UK for parents to be vigilant for symptoms of an invasive form of the disease.
While the disease is expected to rise in the winter months, health officials say a rise in an invasive form has been detected and is likely to be a result of high amounts of bacteria and increased social mixing.
Public Health Scotland figures previously indicated there are more than 430 cases of the infection in the country with approximately eight recorded in children under 10.
However, no deaths have been recorded in Scotland.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it will not comment on individual cases but Downing Street has urged parents to be on the “lookout” for symptoms of the infection.
Strep A infections are usually mild and can be easily treated with antibiotics – illnesses caused by the Group A strep bacteria include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
NHS online say Strep A infections such as scarlet fever can be treated with the antibiotics penicillin and amoxicillin.
When asked about the recent rise in cases, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year compared to usual.
“The bacteria we know causes a mild infection which is easily treated with antibiotics and in rare circumstances it can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness.
“It is still uncommon, but it’s important parents are on the lookout for symptoms.
“But the NHS is well prepared to deal with situations like this, working with the UK Health Security Agency.”
UKHSA chief medical adviser Dr Susan Hopkins said: “Firstly, I think that we’re seeing a lot of viral infections circulate at the moment and these bacterial infections can come as an addition on top.
“Secondly, we’re back to normal social mixing and the patterns of diseases that we’re seeing in the last number of months are out of sync with the normal seasons as people mix back to normal and move around and pass infections on.
“We also need to recognise that the measures that we’ve taken for the last couple of years to reduce Covid circulating will also reduce other infections circulating and so that means that as things get back to normal, these traditional infections that we’ve seen for many years are circulating at great levels.”
When asked whether children are lacking the normal immunity they would have for this time of year, Dr Hopkins added: “So of course, that’s one of the potential areas that we’re exploring.
“We expect that certain amount of children will have these infections each year and therefore they will have a level of immunity.
“So we’re seeing more now than we have seen for the last two years where there were very very low amounts of infections seen.”