Health experts investigate rise in Strep A cases as Penarth family pay tribute to dead daughter
The family of a Penarth pupil have paid tribute to her as health experts investigate a rise in cases of Strep A infections and deaths.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said there had been a rise in rare invasive Group A strep this year, particularly in children under 10, with five deaths of under-10s in England since September.
A separate case has been reported in Wales, taking the known UK total to six. It comes after a pupil from Victoria primary school in Penarth, Hanna Roap, died.
In a statement, Hannah Roap’s family said: “Thank you to everyone for your overwhelming support.
“Thank you for all the flowers, cards and donations. Thank you for all the hugs and tears. Your kindness reminds us that there is good despite immense tragedy.
“We are sorry we have not responded to any messages, texts, emails and calls. Sorry if we are unable to make eye contact if we see you walking by.
“Our hearts have been broken into a million pieces.
“Our only priority is the welfare of Hanna’s eight-year-old sister and best friend.
“We have been stunned by the volume of donations we have received. We were not expecting this. This is testament to the wonderful caring people of Penarth. We will be donating all of this to charity.
“As most of you will be wondering what the cause of death was and to prevent misinformation, Hanna passed away as a result of contracting Strep A.
Earlier, health officials confirmed a youngster from St John’s School in Ealing, west London, had died from Strep A, while the parents of a four-year-old boy from Buckinghamshire confirmed he had died from Strep A.
Last week, a six-year-old died after an outbreak of the same infection at a school in Surrey.
Dr Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, said: “We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year than usual.
“The bacteria usually causes a mild infection producing sore throats or scarlet fever that can be easily treated with antibiotics.
“In very rare circumstances, this bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness – called invasive Group A strep (iGAS).
“This is still uncommon however it is important that parents are on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor as quickly as possible so that their child can be treated and we can stop the infection becoming serious.
“Make sure you talk to a health professional if your child is showing signs of deteriorating after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.”
Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.
The range of illnesses includes the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
The UKHSA said investigations are also under way following reports of an increase in lower respiratory tract Group A Strep infections in children over the past few weeks, which have caused severe illness.
It said there is no current evidence that a new strain is circulating and the rises are most likely due to high amounts of circulating bacteria and social mixing.
Parents are being told to contact NHS 111 or their GP if their child is getting worse, is feeding or eating much less than normal, or has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration.
They should also seek help if their baby is under three months and has a temperature of 38C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39C or higher.
Other red flags are if the child is very tired or irritable.
Parents should call 999 or go to A&E if a child is having difficulty breathing (such as grunting noises or tummy sucking in under the ribs), pauses in breathing, blue colour to a child’s skin, tongue or lips, or if a child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.
‘Loved the outdoors’
The four-year-old from Buckinghamshire has been named locally as Muhammad Ibrahim Ali.
The Bucks Free Press newspaper said he died at his home in High Wycombe on November 14 after suffering a cardiac arrest.
A statement from his school said: “Ibrahim was a friendly boy who loved coming to Oakridge School.
“He had lots of energy and was always active. He particularly loved being outdoors in forest school.
“Ibrahim was kind and loved to help his friends. He was constantly smiling. We are one big family at Oakridge and will miss him terribly.”
Scarlet fever cases have also seen a massive jump.
There were 851 cases reported in the week November 14 to 20, compared to an average of 186 for the same timeframe in previous years.
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