With increasing cases of Strep A infections in the UK, this has created a high level of concern in parents and carers about the health and well-being of their children. I am writing to you today with information about Strep A and how we can reduce the risk of infection within our Birch Wood family.
Group A streptococcus (GAS) is not a new bacteria and is common, many can carry the bacteria without becoming ill. It causes infections in the skin, soft tissue and respiratory tract such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis, scarlet fever and impetigo as well as others. Most of these infections are mild and rarely become serious when treated appropriately. The serious infections are linked to an invasive type of Group A Strep which occur more often when the bacteria get into tissue or a respiratory tract from breaches in our immune system such as an open wound, recovery from a viral illness or underlying health conditions that decrease immunity.
There is currently an increase of cases of scarlet fever. Scarlet fever can present as flu like symptoms including a high temperature, sore throat and swollen glands. A rash appears 12-48 hours later. The rash looks like small raised bumps that make the skin feel like sandpaper. This often starts on the chest and tummy and then spreads to back, arms and legs. Individuals who have scarlet fever will need to stay off school until they are 24hours into a course of antibiotics. If they are not treated with antibiotics they can remain infectious for 2-3 weeks.
Investigations into the increase of cases in children is underway by the government. There is currently no evidence that the increase in lower respiratory tract group A strep infections are caused by a new strain and is likely linked to high levels of bacteria circulating and increased social mixing compared to previous years.
Infections are most commonly spread by cough, sneezes or from an open wound. There is an increase of hand washing and hand sanitisers across both sites of the school and increase of cleaning commonly touched surfaces such as tables, sides and door handles.
To reduce the risk of infections spreading in school, please ensure all open wounds are kept clean and covered. Keep your child off if they are unwell and have a temperature above 38°C and seek medical advice if you are concerned or think your child may have a Strep A infection.
Contact NHS 111 or your GP If your child is unwell and is:
- Getting worse
- Eating much less than normal
- Not passing urine or other signs of dehydration
- A temperature above 39°C
- Your child is very tired or irritable.
Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- Your child is experiencing respiratory difficulty
- Your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
- Your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.
- Your child has a seizure
For more information please use the following links:
I hope you all stay well this winter and have a wonderful Christmas.
Health and Wellbeing Officer.