In the UK, at least nine children have now died with Strep A infection, while health officials are also reporting an increase in scarlet fever cases.
Typical, Streep A infections are mild and easily treated with antibiotics, but an invasive form of the bacteria known as iGAS has been on the rise this year, particularly in children under 10 years old.
A five-year-old child in Belfast is the latest child to die from the infection, with deaths also reported in Hampshire, London, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Penarth in Wales.
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Meanwhile, the massive surge in scarlet fever infections accounted for 851 cases in the week of Nov. 14 to 20, compared to an average of 186 over the same period in previous years, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Click or search the map below to see the number of scarlet fever cases in your area, according to the latest publicly available statistics.
Area with most scarlet fever cases revealed
Scarlet fever – an infection caused by Strep A – mainly affects young children and is easily treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms include a sore throat, headache, fever, and a “sandpaper-like” pink or red rash.
According to data released by the UKHSA, a total of 861 cases have been recorded in England and Wales through November 27.
Among them, 101 were in Wales, with 14 in Bridgend and 11 in Cardiff.
In England, the North West recorded the highest number of cases with 137, including 32 in Merseyside, 27 in Lancashire and 27 in Greater Manchester.
A total of 134 cases were recorded in the South East of England and 128 in the East of England.
Elsewhere there were:
• 124 cases in the East Midlands
• 103 cases in London
• 46 cases in Yorkshire and the Humber
• 48 cases in the West Midlands
• Five cases in South West – with no recorded cases in Dorset and only one in Somerset and Devon
The figures also show there were 9,772 recorded cases of scarlet fever in England and Wales in the last 20 weeks to November 27, compared to 1,255 cases in the same period in 2021 and just 530 in 2022, although both years were affected by the pandemic, when children interacted less.
So far in 2022, until November 27, there are 21,717 registered cases of scarlet fever.
What is Strep A and what are the symptoms?
Strep A generally causes mild infections – why the spate of deaths now?
Areas with invasive Strep A disease
iGAS — or invasive Group A Strep — can be a life-threatening infection where the bacteria has invaded parts of the body, such as the blood, deep muscles, or lungs.
According to data released by UKHSA, there were eight confirmed cases in England and Wales in the week to November 27.
They were in Croydon, South London; Ealing, West London; Knowsley in Merseyside; North Somerset; Oldham in Greater Manchester; Redcar and Cleveland; Rushmoor in Hampshire; and the valley of Glamorgan.
Before the death of a child in Belfast was confirmed, a primary school pupil in Waterlooville, Hampshirehad died of a Strep A infection.
Other known victims include a grade eight student at a South East London secondary school; four years old Muhammad Ibrahim Ali in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire; and a child in Ealing, west London.
A student in an elementary school near Cardiff, also died of the infection, as did one six-year-old child who died following an outbreak at Ashford Church of England School in Surrey.
In the meantime, four-year-old Camila Rose Burns is on a ventilator at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool after being diagnosed with Strep A.