There have been seven deaths related to Strep A in Ireland, including four children, the Health Service Executive said.
The HSE said there have also been three adult deaths from the bacterial infection that year.
The Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE, Dr. Colm Henry said every death is a “tragic case” but stressed that these cases are “extraordinarily rare”.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Dr. Henry that streptococci are “much more common” as an insect and cause sore throats and scarlet fever.
“Death is exceptionally rare in children and for the great majority of children who have sore throats and fevers, they can be managed safely at home,” Dr Henry added, reports RTE.
When asked if there is a shortage of basic antibiotics like amoxicillin, Dr. Henry, there are “enough antibiotics for streptococcal illness or for any other common bacterial illness”, reports RTE.
“We have enough antibiotics to deal with people who require antibiotics, based on the solid clinical indications that general practitioners will be very familiar with out there in the community,” Dr Henry said, reports RTE.
Strep A infections are usually mild and easily treated with antibiotics.
Diseases caused by group A streptococci include impetigo, scarlet fever, and strep throat.
The number of cases of scarlet fever has increased sharply.
Symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache, and fever, as well as a fine, pink or red rash that feels like “sandpapery.”
On darker skin, the rash may be harder to see, but it will still be “sandpapery.”
Strep A infection can progress to a more serious invasive group A strep infection (iGAS), although this is rare.
The health service executive wrote to schools and childcare providers earlier this month, advising them to keep children at home with fevers, coughs and sore throats to combat a “significant increase in viral infections” and concerns about group A streptococcus.
The letters advised that “there has been a large increase in general viral infections among children and young people this winter. There have also been recent concerns about a rare bacterial infection… iGAS… also known as Group A Strep. Ireland has seen cases of more serious (Group A Strep) infections recently”, but said that “so far the rate of serious infection is below the level seen before the Covid-19 pandemic”, reports RTE.
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