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Warrington’s public health team is urging people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Group A Strep to help prevent the spread of the infection.
There have been a higher number of cases of Group A Streptococcus (Strep) than usual this year, and parents may be concerned about recent media headlines.
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and how to prevent the spread of infection to protect yourself and others this winter.
Group A Strep is a bacteria found in the throat and on the skin, and it can be passed from one person to another through sneezing, kissing, and skin contact. In most people it does not cause any symptoms, but it can make others seriously ill.
Breaks in the skin, such as surgical wounds, or cuts can also provide an opportunity for the bacteria to enter the body and cause infection.
Most Group A Strep infections are relatively mild illnesses such as sore throat, scarlet fever, impetigo (a crusted skin infection usually around the mouth that often affects children), or cellulitis (an infection causing redness of the skin). These infections may require antibiotics. In rare circumstances, Group A Strep can cause severe diseases called invasive Group A Strep disease.
Anyone can become infected with Group A Strep. However, people with long-term illnesses like cancer, diabetes and kidney disease, and those who use medications such as steroids, are at higher risk for invasive disease. Invasive Group A Strep infection occurs when the bacteria gets past the body’s natural defences and enters parts of the body where it is not usually found, such as the blood, muscles, or lungs.
Symptoms of invasive disease can include fever (a high temperature above 38°C), severe muscle aches, localised muscle tenderness, and redness at the site of a wound.
It is important that parents, and people at higher risk, are on the lookout for symptoms and seek medical help as quickly as possible, so that the patient can be treated and the infection stopped from becoming more serious.
As a parent, if you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement. Contact NHS 111 or call your GP practice if:
Thara Raj, Warrington’s director of public health, said: “For the last two winters, we have all been on high alert for COVID-19 and have changed our behaviours to help make sure we stay safe. We have seen a reduction in the number of cases of other winter respiratory illnesses, such as flu, largely due to our improved health habits.
“We know how to help combat group A Strep infections - there are four simple things we can do this winter to help prevent the spread of bugs and diseases. Let’s keep washing our hands, sanitising surfaces, covering our mouths when we cough or sneeze, and keeping a distance when we feel unwell. It sounds so simple, but washing your hands with soap and warm water is one of the easiest ways to prevent yourself and others from catching illnesses like flu, norovirus, the common cold and Group A Strep.
“We need everyone to remember that it is still important to take these small steps to reduce the spread of infection. It's the simple things that really do mean a lot!”
For more information about symptoms of Group A Strep and associated illnesses, visit:
Further information about the Simple Things campaign can be found at simplethings-nhs.com.