Strep A – live: Ninth child dies as Belfast school confirms ‘tragic loss’ of pupil

A pupil who attended a primary school in Belfast died on Monday after being diagnosed with a severe form of Strep A, her school has confirmed – bringing the UK-wide death toll to nine.

The schoolgirl developed a severe illness last week and was treated at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, where she had been in intensive care.

A spokesperson for Black Mountain Primary School said: “Sadly, the governors, staff and students of Black Mountain Primary School have been informed of the death of one of our P2 pupils.

“This is a tragic loss to the Black Mountain Primary School family and our school community, and the thoughts of the entire school are with the pupil’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

Nine children are confirmed to have died from Strep A in recent weeks, and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed there has been an increase in infections.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria causes a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

Key Points

  • Primary school pupil dies from Strep A in Belfast as death toll rises to nine

  • Preventative antibiotics ‘may be given to schoolchildren’ to slow spread

  • Plea from parents of 4 year-old who died of Strep A

  • No 10 ‘fully understands’ concerns over rising Strep A cases

Primary school pupil dies from Strep A in Belfast as death toll rises to nine

09:46 , Emily Atkinson

A primary school pupil in Belfast has died after contracting Strep A, making her the ninth child to die from the bacterial infection.

She was treated at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children after she became severely ill last week.

Zoe Tidman reports:

Primary school pupil dies from Strep A in Belfast as death toll rises to nine

Exclusive: NHS 111 crisis adds pressure to health system as Strep A calls spike

09:40 , Emily Atkinson

A crisis in NHS 111 has left vulnerable patients unable to the get help they need while staff struggle to cope with the volume of calls – piling pressure on other overstretched areas of the emergency care system.

Staff say that as call numbers grow, their jobs have become like “working in a sweatshop”, with targets for the number of calls being put before patient safety.

Over the weekend there was a surge in 111 calls in relation to Strep A symptoms following the death of seven children in the UK, staff told The Independent.

Our health correspondent Rebecca Thomas has this exclusive story:

NHS 111 crisis adds pressure to health system as Strep A calls spike

No change in circulating strains of Strep A making infection more severe, says UKHSA official

09:25 , Emily Atkinson

Dr Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, has said there is “long-standing guidance” that enables health protection teams to assess the situation in schools and nurseries to consider antibiotic prophylaxis for “either a group of children in certain classes or an entire nursery school”.

He told Sky News that “the information we have available at the moment is that there is no change” in the circulating strains of Strep A bacteria that is making them more severe.

“There isn’t something that is particularly new or novel about the bacteria that are causing the infections that we’re seeing at the moment,” he said.

“We are seeing a larger number of infections, for example, causing scarlet fever, than we would normally see this time of year.”

Strep A cases in your area as hundreds of infections reported across UK

09:12 , Emily Atkinson

Parents have been warned to be on the lookout for symptoms after a rise in infections caused by the Strep A bacteria.

At least eight children have died with an invasive form of the bacteria in recent weeks, while cases of scarlet fever, which is caused by Strep A infection, have skyrocketed.

Concern has been raised as cases are higher than usual for the time of year.

Infections have been found across the country, with large concentrations of Strep A in southeast England, along with the northeast and northwest.

My colleague Liam James breaks down the case numbers across the UK by area:

Strep A cases in your area as hundreds of infections reported across UK

Ninth child 'dies at Belfast primary school which reported Strep A case’

08:48 , Emily Atkinson

A five-year-old girl who attended a primary school in Belfast has died after health officials said one of its pupils had been diagnosed with a severe form of Strep A, reports say.

BBC News NI says it understands the schoolgirl developed a severe illness last week and was treated at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, where she had been in intensive care.

The broadcaster claims she died on Monday.

It comes days after the Public Health Agency (PHA) sent a letter to parents of children at Black Mountain Primary School.

On Friday, PHA said a pupil had contracted severe form of Strep A and advised other pupils to preventative course of antibiotics.

Preventative antibiotics ‘may be given to schoolchildren’ to slow spread

08:37 , Emily Atkinson

Preventative antibiotics could be distributed among children at schools affected by Strep A infections, the schools minister has confirmed following the deaths of eight children.

Nick Gibb said the issue was raised in the House of Lords on Monday and the use of antibiotics is an option.

He told GB News: “Lord Markham said in the House of Lords yesterday that the UK Health and Security Agency are monitoring the position and are considering those kind of issues in those schools where there is an infection.

“This is an ongoing situation, the UKHSA are involved very closely with those schools and they will be providing further advice later on.

“But that may well be an option for those particular schools where there is an infection.”

Monday 5 December 2022 21:08 , Sam Rkaina

We have now ended our live coverage of the Strep A outbreak but keep checking independent.co.uk for the latest updates.

No 10 says no shortage of antibiotic

Monday 5 December 2022 15:47 , Zoe Tidman

A No 10 spokesperson denied this morning there was a shortage of a type of antibiotic used to treat Strep A infections, according to HuffPostUK’s deputy politcal editor:

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Fundraising raises thousands for Camila

Monday 5 December 2022 15:28 , Zoe Tidman

Thousands of pounds have been raised to help Camila’s family as her parents remain by her side.

“Dean and Kaye understandably have not and will not leave Camila’s side during this absolutely heartbreaking situation,” the fundraising page says.

“Due to this, there will be no income coming into the home.”

As of Monday afternoon, it had raised more than £19,000.

Father of girl ‘fighting for life’ speaks of agony

Monday 5 December 2022 15:09 , Zoe Tidman

The father of a girl who is “fighting for her life” after contracting a Strep A infection has spoken of his pain.

Dean Burns from Liverpool told the BBC: “She is still fighting for her life. She is really poorly, it is just devastating to us as a family. We can’t believe this has happened.

“It progressed to something called invasive group A Strep, which has now gone into her bloodstream and has devastated her body.”

He told the Today programme: “I’m at a loss with it all, I just want our family back. The pain is unimaginable. She is just so beautiful and precious. She is just our special little girl.”

Camila Rose Burns is in hospital with invasive group Strep A infection (Family handout)
Camila Rose Burns is in hospital with invasive group Strep A infection (Family handout)

Everything we know about current Strep A outbreak

Monday 5 December 2022 14:30 , Zoe Tidman

Seven children have now died from a bacterial infection after outbreaks at a number of schools.

A 12 year-old boy from south London is the latest victim of Strep A, the eldest to date. Six other primary school age children have also passed away in recent weeks.

Here is what we know so far:

All we know about Strep A outbreak as seven children die of bacterial infection

Schools issue advice to parents over Strep A

Monday 5 December 2022 14:01 , Zoe Tidman

Schools are issuing health and safety advice to parents and carers after a surge in cases of Strep A, reportedly causing the deaths of up to seven children in England and Wales.

Furvah Shah has the full story:

What advice have schools sent to parents about Strep A?

No 10 ‘fully understands’ concerns over rising Strep A cases

Monday 5 December 2022 13:30 , Zoe Tidman

Downing Street said it can “fully understand” that parents are concerned by rising Strep A cases.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year compared to usual.

“The bacteria we know causes a mild infection which is easily treated with antibiotics and in rare circumstances it can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness.

“It is still uncommon but it’s important parents are on the lookout for symptoms. But the NHS is well prepared to deal with situations like this, working with the UK Health Security Agency.”

They said any parents who are concerned should contact the NHS.

Seventh child dies from Strep A infection

Monday 5 December 2022 13:00 , Zoe Tidman

A 12-year-old boy is the seventh child to die after contracting Strep A in recent weeks, according to reports.

The boy, believed to be a Year 8 pupil from Colfe’s School in Lewisham, is understood to be the first secondary school student to fall victim to an infection caused by the bacteria after a spike in cases in recent weeks.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain has the full story:

Boy, 12, dies from Strep A infection as parents warned to be vigilant

What to do if you think your child might have Strep A?

Monday 5 December 2022 12:30 , Zoe Tidman

What is Strep A and what should parents and carers do if they think their child has it?

Here’s everything you need to know, put together by Joanna Whitehead:

What to do if you think your child has Strep A

Downing Street “understands” parents’ concerns

Monday 5 December 2022 12:23 , Sam Rkaina

Downing Street said it can “fully understand” that parents are concerned by rising Strep A cases, but stressed the NHS is “well prepared” for such situations.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year compared to usual.

“The bacteria we know causes a mild infection which is easily treated with antibiotics and in rare circumstances it can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness.

“It is still uncommon but it’s important parents are on the lookout for symptoms.

“But the NHS is well prepared to deal with situations like this, working with the UK Health Security Agency.”

He said any parents who are concerned should contact the NHS.

Parents told to look out for scarlet fever symptoms

Monday 5 December 2022 12:02 , Zoe Tidman

Health officials are urging parents to look out for symptoms of scarlet fever in their children following a surge in cases driven by a recent increase in Strep A infections.

Emily Atkinson has the full story:

Strep A: Parents warned to look out for these symptoms as scarlet fever cases rise

Top medic on Strep A

Monday 5 December 2022 11:28 , Zoe Tidman

The chief medical adviser at UKHSA has done a thread on Strep A, scarlet fever and the rare iGAS disease.

Take a look here:

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Authorities on Strep A outbreak

Monday 5 December 2022 11:00 , Zoe Tidman

Here is the latest from UK health authorities on Strep A:

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Plea from parents of 4 year-old who died of Strep A

Monday 5 December 2022 10:30 , Sam Rkaina

The parents of a boy who died after contracting Strep A have warned others of the symptoms of the infection that killed their son.

Muhammad Ibrahim Ali died of the bug while in an ambulance heading to the hospital in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, on 14 November.

His mother Shabana Kousar, told Sky News her four-year-old son had a red rash across his back and was given antibiotics.

The boy’s condition improved but his symptoms remained and he was given Calpol before he developed stomach pains and was rushed to hospital.

A post-mortem examination showed he had Strep A in his blood.

Click here for the full story.

Muhammad Ibrahim Ali (Just Giving)
Muhammad Ibrahim Ali (Just Giving)

Call 111 if symptoms get worse

Monday 5 December 2022 10:12 , Sam Rkaina

Health officials are urging parents to contact NHS 111 or their GP if their child is getting worse, is feeding or eating much less than normal, 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 three months with a temperature of 39C or higher.

A very tired or irritable child is also a red flag.

If their child is having difficulty breathing (by making grunting noises or sucking their stomach in under their ribs) or pauses in breathing, has blue skin, tongue or lips, or is floppy and unresponsive, parents should call 999 or go to A&E.

Parents told to look out for symptoms of Scarlet Fever

Monday 5 December 2022 10:11 , Zoe Tidman

Health officials are urging parents to look out for symptoms of scarlet fever in their children following a surge in cases driven by a recent increase in Strep A infections.

According to the most recent data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the number of scarlet fever cases remains higher than would typically be expected at this time of year.

There were 851 cases reported in week 46 compared with an average of 186 in the preceding years, the agency said.

The illness is caused by a species of bacteria called Group A Streptococcus. These bacteria also cause other respiratory and skin infections, such as Strep throat and impetigo.

On rare occasions, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause an illness called invasive Group A Strep (iGAS). While still uncommon, there has been an increase in invasive Strep A cases this year, particularly in children under 10.

The warning comes after a seventh child died after contracting a Strep A infection.

The UKHSA says investigations are under way following the increase in cases, though there is no evidence that a new strain is circulating.

A fever is one symptom of Strep A (Getty Images)
A fever is one symptom of Strep A (Getty Images)