GMBs Dr Hilary reveals red flag Strep A symptoms parents should watch out for

Good Morning Britain’s Dr Hilary Jones has spoken out about the current Strep A health scare after eight children have died from complications of the disease in the UK this year.

The TV doctor appeared on Wednesday morning’s episode of Lorraine to talk about the bacterial infection, detailing symptoms parents should look out for and the “red flags” that require emergency medical attention.

Strep A are bacteria commonly found in the throat or on the skin, and can cause a variety of different infections. From minor illnesses that can be quickly recovered from to more serious and even fatal diseases, the infection can also cause scarlet fever, skin infection impetigo and strep throat.

Speaking on the show, Dr Hilary said a major problem right now is that illnesses with the same symptoms are very common during winter time.

"Right now every parent will know children at their children’s school who have got runny noses, sore throats, glands, rashes,” he said. “It’s very, very common to have those symptoms.”

While stressing the importance of being aware of them, he also reassured parents that the risk of their children developing a fatal case is still very rare.

“When you read in the paper about invasive Strep A we’re talking about a rare disease. Whilst it’s killed eight children this season, we always see these kinds of complications every year. We saw four deaths in 2017, fewer during the pandemic years, eight this year, partly because immunity has gone down.”

“So it’s very, very unusual to see such serious illnesses, and we’re talking about a rate of 2.3 per 100,000 children,” he continued.

“So it’s rare, and I think that's really worth stressing. However, it doesn’t make it any easier for parents who should be worried about their children.”

In terms of the “red flag” symptoms, Dr Hilary described “a severe sore throat with exudation,” which are white spots on the back of the tonsils, and “large glands in the front of the neck” as ailments to seek attention over.

He also added that “a fever is always going to occur within the infection, and sometimes a scarlet fever rash, which [looks like] small red bumps [and] feels like sandpaper.”

It’s not just Dr Hilary that has been urging parents to take extra notice of symptoms in their children either. Downing Street’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,” they continued.

“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.”

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