A SHOCKING map has revealed scarlet fever hotspots across England and Wales.
Fresh figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show that there have been over 1,100 cases of the illness in the last week.
It comes as an outbreak of Strep A has claimed the lives of nine children across the country.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) – is also known as Streptococcus pyogenes.
It is a bacteria that in most cases, will cause mild illnesses.
This can include sore throats and skin infections, alongside tonsillitis, cellulitis, and scarlet fever, which is flu-like and tends to occur in children – it can be serious if not treated swiftly with antibiotics.
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Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria called group A streptococci.
Almost all the kids who have died of Strep A were of primary school age and include seven-year-old Hannah Roap, whose condition started with just a mild cough.
Sadly she rapidly deteriorated and tragically died within 24-hours.
One dad also yesterday told how he took his five-year-old Stella-Lily McCorkindale to A&E three times before she died of Strep A.
Another mum also revealed how fast Strep A strikes after her little one was diagnosed with the illness, as well as scarlet fever and pneumonia.
The UKHSA data from the Notification of Infectious Diseases report (NOIDS) charts cases of scarlet fever up to the week ending December 4.
It shows that across England, Wales and the unitary authorities, there have been 1,131 cases.
This is higher that the 500 being seen during the first week in November.
It's also higher than the 991 cases seen in the previous week, ending November 27.
The South East has been the hardest hit with the illness, with 189 cases having been reported across the region.
Areas such as Surrey and Hampshire have seen some of the largest incidences of the condition.
It's followed by the North West, where 182 positive tests have been reported, with Cumbria and Merseyside both having reported high case loads.
In the North East, there have been 59 cases in the week ending December 4, with the worst hit area being County Durham, which falls under the unitary authorities.
Yorkshire and the Humber has seen 66 cases, with the majority having been seen across West Yorkshire, which has detected 35.
The signs of Strep A and scarlet fever all parents need to know
There are four key signs of Group Strep A to watch out for, according to the NHS. These are:
- A fever (meaning a high temperature above 38°C)
- Severe muscle aches
- Localised muscle tenderness
- Redness at the site of a wound
The NHS says that when it comes to scarlet fever, your child will most likely start off with cold-like symptoms.
The signs will include:
- high temperature
- sore throat
- swollen neck glands
- rash 12-48 hours after initial symptoms. This usually starts on the tummy and then spreads
- white coating on the tongue
- red cheeks
The East Midlands reported 122 infections, with Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire having seen the biggest case loads.
In the West Midlands, 69 infections were reported, with the East of England having also reported 150.
London recorded 156 cases with Bromley and Bexley having the most infections.
The South West reported just three cases, these were both in the unitary authorities of North Somerset and Bristol City.
Meanwhile, Wales has seen 134 cases of the bug, with Cardiff having seen 14 of these.
It's important to note that scarlet fever is not Strep A, but it can be a complication of it.
Speaking during Prime Minister's questions today, Rishi Sunak said the NHS are working hard to make sure parents are aware of the symptoms they need to be on the lookout for.
He added that the illness can be treated with antibiotics and that people should be reassured that this is not a new strain of Strep A.
"There is no reason to believe that it has become more lethal and more resistant to antibiotics, so the most important thing for parents to do is look out for the symptoms and get the treatment that is available for them," he added.
The report shows that there have been just ten cases of invasive Strep A, which can lead to issues such as necrotising fasciitis (a deep tissue infection with tissue destruction requiring surgery) or cellulitis (an infection causing redness of the skin).
GP Dr Rachel Ward, of Woodlands Medical Centre, Didco, explained: "Most commonly Strep A infections cause throat infections – causing sore throat with fever, or skin infections.
"It also causes scarlet fever where fever and sore throat is accompanied by a rough rash on the body, strawberry looking tongue and red cheeks.
"In more serious invasive infections, people will experience fever, severe aches and possibly muscle tenderness in one area with skin changes.
"There can also be unexplained vomiting and diarrhoea. This is an emergency and you should seek medical help immediately."
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If you are worried about any of your child's symptoms then you should visit your GP or call 111.
In the event of an emergency, always call 999 or visit your closest A&E department.
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