Children at risk of strep A in England could receive preventative antibiotics | Streptococcus A

Primary school children at risk of a severe form of strep A could be given preventative antibiotics as a general measure, in a move described as “rare” by health officials.

At least nine children have died from complications from strep A bacterial infections since September, with a senior health official suggesting the early start to the strep A season in the UK could have a ripple effect on children. immunity levels caused by Covid measures, although others have played down the impact the lockdowns may have had.

Most strep A infections are mild, with a sore throat or skin infection that can be easily treated with antibiotics the most common features, and deaths are rare.

In extreme cases, strep A can develop into an invasive group A streptococcal (iGAS) infection, which can be fatal. Authorities have noticed an increase in iGAS cases this year, especially in children under 10 years old.

On Tuesday, Schools Minister Nick Gibb told GB News that preventative antibiotics could be given to children in England at schools affected by strep A infections.

He said: “Lord Markham told the House of Lords yesterday that the UK Health Security Agency was monitoring the position and considering these sorts of issues in schools where there is infection.

“This is an ongoing situation, the UKHSA are very closely involved with these schools and will provide further guidance at a later date. But this may well be an option for particular schools where there is infection.”

The plan was presented by Health Minister Nick Markham at the Lords on Monday.

The Tory peer said: ‘We have given instructions to doctors that if necessary they should proactively prescribe penicillin as the best line of defense on this, and also where there is spread in schools which we know is the primary vector for this disease, whether they should work with local health protection teams, and sometimes even consider the use of antibiotics prophylactically.

GPs generally avoid mass prescribing of antibiotics as this can build resistance to serious infections in the population.

The UKHSA said the measure of prescribing antibiotics to children in a school or nursery exposed to non-invasive Strep A was “rare”.

The agency added that the move was only considered in “exceptional circumstances” by the Outbreak Control Team (OCT) on a “case by case” basis.

“There is no strong evidence for the effectiveness (of antibiotics) in the routine control of outbreaks in this setting (involving children who have been in contact with non-invasive Strep A),” said the UKHSA.

“It may be considered in exceptional circumstances by OCT, for example when there are reports of serious outcomes or hospitalizations. In schools and nurseries, antibiotic chemoprophylaxis is not routinely recommended for contacts a non-invasive GAS infection (group A streptococcus).

A pupil at Morelands Primary School in Waterlooville, Hampshire, has become the eighth child known to have died with the invasive form of strep A. On Tuesday, it was reported that a ninth child had died in Northern Ireland.

Adam Finn, professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol, told Times Radio that it was important to “find the right balance”.

“On the one hand, not alarming people whose children are mildly ill, and there are a lot of mildly ill children at the moment, and at the same time helping people and supporting them to seek care and attention when their children fall seriously ill – relentlessly getting sicker as the hours go by.These are the children who need to be seen urgently.

He said children with “ordinary” viral infections might feel worse then better, and “things would go up and down”, and they would continue to eat and drink.

“Children who have an invasive bacterial infection, they don’t have these episodes where they feel better — they just get worse,” he said.

Illnesses caused by group A strep bacteria include impetigo, scarlet fever, and strep throat.

There has been a sharp increase in cases of scarlet fever. There were 851 reported from November 14 to 20, compared to an average of 186 for the same period in previous years.

Symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, headache, and fever, as well as a thin, pinkish, or red rash with a sandpaper-like feel.

Leave a Comment