All in our school community will be aware of the increased media coverage about Strep A, a bacteria called group A streptococci, commonly known as Strep A.
Scarlet fever is caused by Strep A. Strep A can also cause other respiratory and skin infections such as strep throat and impetigo. In very rare occasions, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive Group A strep (iGAS). While still very uncommon, there has been an increase in invasive Group A strep cases this year, particularly in children under 10.
Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious. Therefore, look out for symptoms in your child, which include a sore throat, headache and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel. On darker skin, the rash can be more difficult to detect visually but will have a sandpapery feel.
If your child becomes unwell with these symptoms, please contact NHS 111 or your GP to ask for advise, because early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia or a bloodstream infection. If your child has scarlet fever, keep them at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.
There are lots of viruses that cause sore throats, colds and coughs circulating which can be resolved without medical intervention. However, children can on occasion develop a bacterial infection on top of a virus and that can make them more unwell.
As a parent, if you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement. Contact NHS 111 or your GP if:
- your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
- there are pauses when your child breathes
- your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
- your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake
Good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread of many bugs. By teaching your child how to wash their hands properly with soap for 20 seconds, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and keeping away from others when feeling unwell, they will be able to reduce the risk of picking up or spreading infections.
Please do talk to a member of school staff if you have any concerns and we will do our best to respond.