Scarlet fever: Number of infections in Bucks and Berks

TWENTY-SEVEN scarlet fever infections were found across Buckinghamshire and Berkshire last week.  

Weekly data released by the UK Health Security Agency’s statutory notification of infectious diseases in the country showed how many people contracted diseases during the week ending December 25.

There were 854 cases of scarlet fever in the whole of South East – down from 1418 the previous week.

Five of those were in Buckinghamshire, with four in the Chiltern and one in South Bucks area.

Reading had six cases of scarlet fever.

Slough recorded four infections during last week, while there were no cases in Windsor and Maidenhead.

Bracknell Forest had one infection, West Berkshire six and Wokingham five cases last week.  

Sadly, 25 children under 18 in England have died after contracting Strep A. There have been 122 deaths across all age groups in England so far this season.  

Strep A, or Group A streptococcus, can cause scarlet fever, throat infections, and in rare cases, an invasive form of the disease.

Usually, the mild form of infection can be treated with antibiotics, and only rarely the bacteria manages to get into the bloodstream and cause invasive Group A strep (iGAS).

A Buckinghamshire family was left heartbroken after four-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Ali died at his home in High Wycombe on November 14 following a cardiac arrest caused by iGAS infection.

The majority of iGAS cases continue to affect people over 45.

UKHSA incident director Dr Obaghe Edeghere said: “We are continuing to see a rise in scarlet fever and ‘strep throat’ and this is understandably concerning for parents. However I would stress that the condition can be easily treated with antibiotics and it is very rare that a child will go on to become more seriously ill.

“Over the winter, there are lots of illnesses circulating that can make children unwell and so it is important to avoid contact with other people if you are feeling unwell, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue. I would also urge all those eligible for free winter vaccines to take advantage of these.”

What is Strep A?

Group A streptococcus (or Strep A) is known to cause scarlet fever, throat infections and, in very rare cases, invasive disease.

This can occur when bacteria get into parts of the body where bacteria are not usually found, such as the blood, muscle or the lungs.

It can happen if the bacteria get past a person’s defences, such as through an open wound or when a person’s immune system is depleted.

Strep A symptoms

The bacteria can be found in the throat and on the skin and people may carry it without displaying any symptoms.

It can live in throats and on hands for long enough to allow easy spread between people through sneezing, kissing and skin contact.

Invasive Strep A can cause further complications.

Symptoms include:

  • high fever
  • severe muscle aches
  • localised muscle tenderness
  • redness at site of a wound

Slough Observer | News