What is Strep A: Everything you need to know about throat infection hitting Britain - Fever, symptoms and antibiotics explained

What is Strep A? - Read our key guide.
What is Strep A? - Read our key guide.

The bacteria can be a threat to life and lead to scarlet fever, therefore parents are being warned about the symptoms

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Six children have now died this winter in the UK after contracting Strep A, leading to many concerned Brits asking what the virus is.

The bacteria can be a threat to life and lead to scarlet fever, therefore parents are being warned about the symptoms.

The condition is known medically as Group A Streptococcus or Group A Strep.

It is a bacteria that causes a range of infections, including strep throat, tonsillitis and impetigo.

Often there are no symptoms, but it can be found in the throat, skin and respiratory tract of those infected.

In extremely rare cases, deadly illnesses can be caused, called Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS).

Bacteria hitting humans deep into the body, such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs, is known as Invasive Group A strep disease.

Two rare but particularly dangerous forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic syndrome.

The latter is a rapidly progressing infection that causes blood pressure/shock and damage to organs.

The toxic shock has a high death rate.

What is Strep A? - The infection can lead to scarlet fever.
What is Strep A? - The infection can lead to scarlet fever.

Strep A often begins with a few typical symptoms.

Signs include a rash, a sore throat, flushed cheeks, ear infections, sore skin and a high fever.

Some carrying the disease do not have any symptoms, but are still just as likely to pass on the condition to others as those who are suffering with symptoms.

Skin infections that start with red sores or blisters that then burst is Impetigo, something that can be treated with antibiotics.

Flu-like symptoms arise when people are suffering with scarlet fever, such as a high temperature and swollen neck glands.

A rash is then likely to develop, often starting on the chest and stomach before spreading.

Symptoms also arise on the tongue, as a white coating develops which then peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen in little bumps.

Six school children have died of Strep A across Britain, with one coming from Wales.

The other five are in England, in west London, Surrey and Buckinghamshire.

Some victims have not been named, meaning some locations are unknown.

There is no suggestion that the six deaths are in any way related.