Fifteen children under the age of 15 have now died in the UK after being diagnosed with invasive Strep A disease, new data show.
Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show that 13 of these children have died in England since September. The other two deaths were recorded in Belfast and Wales.
Strep A cases were reported to be more than four times higher this year than previous years’ averages.
The victims include Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, an “adventurous” four-year-old from Buckinghamshire, and Stella-Lily McCorkindale, 5, from Belfast, who was their parents’ “sunshine”.
Hanna Roap, a “bubbly” seven-year-old girl from Wales, also died – with her father saying she could have been saved if she had been given antibiotics.
Meanwhile, Camila Rose Burns’ parents have asked Brits to pray for their four-year-old, who remains in intensive care in Liverpool battling Strep A.
There have been 652 reports of invasive streptococcal disease since September, more than at the same times in the past five years, according to the UKHSA.
There have been 85 cases in children aged one to four so far this season, compared to 194 cases in this age group during the last peak season of 2017/2018.
There were also 60 cases in children aged five to nine.
Over the past three months, 60 deaths across all age groups have been reported in England.
Group A strep is the name for a type of bacteria that is sometimes found in the throat or on the skin.
It usually causes mild illnesses such as sore throats and skin infections, and most people get it without symptoms.
However, in rare cases, these bacteria can cause a serious and life-threatening illness called invasive group A strep disease.
Health officials say there is currently no evidence that a new strain is circulating.
The increase in cases is most likely due to high levels of circulating bacteria and increased social mixing, they advised.
But pharmacists across the country have sounded the alarm that they are struggling to access some antibiotics, including the liquid version of penicillin often given to children.
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