Group A Strep and Scarlet Fever Advise
Wednesday 7th December 2022
You will be aware of the coverage in the media concerning Group A streptococcus infections, also known as Group A strep, strep A or GAS.
Group A strep is a common bacteria, which many of us carry in our throats and on our skin. It doesn’t always result in illness, but it can cause infections, some mild and some more serious.
More serious infections are caused by the bacteria getting into parts of the body where it’s not usually found, like the lungs or bloodstream. These are usually linked to invasive group A strep also known as iGAS.
iGAS infections are still uncommon, but there has been a slight increase in cases this year nationally, particularly in children under 10, and sadly a small number of deaths. This is understandably very worrying for parents, schools and early years providers.
The increase in cases is being investigated, but is not thought to be because of a new strain of bacteria. It is more likely to be as a result of a number of factors including more social mixing and increases in other respiratory illnesses.
The key messages for parents document attached details the importance of good hand and respiratory hygiene and these will reduce the risk of children picking up or spreading infections and should be encouraged in all settings. Please distribute these key messages to your families and reinforce hygiene messages with all children in your care.
For more information please see:
UKHSA Blog - Group A Strep - What you need to know
UKHSA guidance - Scarlet fever: managing outbreaks in schools and nurseries
UKHSA guidance - Health protection in children and young people settings, including education
In addition to the above, please find attached two resources from the Early Years Alliance that will also help you to provide information to your parents and families.
Early Childhood Services
You can get more information here:
[http://Scarlet%20fever%20-%20NHS%20(www.nhs.uk)]Scarlet fever - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Scarlet fever is a common childhood infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A Streptococcus (GAS). It is not usually serious, but should be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications (such as pneumonia) and spread to others. The early symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. After 12 to 48 hours, the characteristic red, pinhead rash develops, typically first appearing on the chest and stomach, then rapidly spreading to other parts of the body, and giving the skin a sandpaper-like texture. The scarlet rash may be harder to spot on darker skin, although the 'sandpaper' feel should be present. Patients typically have flushed cheeks and be pale around the mouth. This may be accompanied by a bright red ‘strawberry’ tongue.
Invasive Group A Strep (iGAS)
The same bacteria which cause scarlet fever can also cause a range of other types of infection such as skin infections (impetigo) and sore throat. In very rare cases, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive Group A strep (iGAS). Whilst still uncommon, there has been an increase in iGAS cases this year, particularly in children under 10 years old. It is very rare for children with scarlet fever to develop iGAS infection. Parents are advised to trust their judgement when their child is unwell; if their child seriously deteriorates, they should speak to their GP or call 111 for advice.
UKHSA, East Midlands