An eighth-grader at a school in south-east London has died after contracting Strep A – as another bereaved family revealed the symptoms their son experienced in his final days.
Colfe’s School wrote to parents on Thursday to inform them that a student has died following an infection.
Sky News understands that the student is in 8th grade and is over 10 years old. Current UKHSA figures for Strep A deaths only take into account cases in the under-10 age group, with six deaths reported on Friday.
It comes as families who have lost a child to the disease warn others of symptoms to watch out for.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sadiya Chowdhury, Muhammad Ibrahim Ali’s mother, Shabana Kousar, said the first sign that her son was unwell was a red rash on his lower back.
A full course of antibiotics seemed to have helped the four-year-old, but when his symptoms persisted two weeks later, she was prescribed Calpol.
Ibrahim’s condition worsened and he had a stomach ache.
He died in an ambulance on his way to hospital in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
A week later, autopsy results showed he had Strep A bacteria in his blood.
Ms Kousar told Sky News that people should be more aware of early symptoms.
“I believe parents should be aware of the symptoms and act on it if their child is experiencing something similar,” she said.
Azra Ali, Ibrahim’s aunt, told Sky’s Sadiya Chowdhury that the government “needs to provide accurate guidance to local authorities”.
She said: “I worry that the public is still not aware of the seriousness of this problem because we’ve been told in the news that it’s very rare for children to die from strep A, but it’s true. Unfortunately, they forgot that we had six deaths in two weeks and I believe many more will die if the government does not act quickly.”
Sky News has asked the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrative Care Council for comment on the incident.
A highly contagious bacterial infection is usually relatively mild and causes scarlet fever, but can be fatal if it enters the bloodstream and other parts of the body.
Parents are encouraged to stay alert and watch out for symptoms including: pain when swallowing, fever, swollen tonsils with white patches, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, high temperature or skin rash.
Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist from the University of Reading, said: “The only way to be certain that someone has been infected with Strep A is to take a swab from their throat and culture it in a lab. .”
He added that while “early cues” are good signs, “they are not proof and people should see a doctor”.
Hanna Roap, a seven-year-old girl from Wales, also died after contracting Strep A.
Her father, Abul Roap, told The Telegraph that his daughter was prescribed steroids for a cough and “never woke up”.
He said Hanna “wasn’t on the right medication” and said that if she was given antibiotics “it could be a different story.”
‘Living in an absolute nightmare’
Dean Burns’ daughter, Camila Rose Burns, has been fighting for her life on a ventilator at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool since Monday after she contracted the infection.
He told Sky News he’s “lived in an absolute nightmare” since his daughter was taken to hospital.
“She hasn’t come out of the woods yet, she’s really, really poor,” he said.
Mr. Burns, who lives in Bolton with his family, said a disease-causing bug was raging around Camila’s school, so they kept an eye on her over the weekend.
He explained that she had complained about her breasts being sore.
After a visit to the hospital on Saturday, where the doctors prescribed an inhaler and said she could go home, her health deteriorated on Sunday and they placed her in A&E.
Although Strep A can be a serious illness, it is less dangerous if treated promptly with antibiotics.
According to the UK Health Security Agency, there were 851 cases in the week to November 20, compared with an average of 186 cases in the same week in previous years.
It advises people with the illness not to go to daycare, school or work for at least 24 hours after they start antibiotic treatment.
UKHSA said the increase in cases could be the result of a retraction of measures taken during the COVID pandemic.
Dr Clarke added: “I’ve found that when we’re seeing flu at the moment, the lack of children’s integration may have caused a decline in immunity across the country. population, which may increase transmission, especially among school-age children.”