The parents of a child who died after contracting Strep A described his symptoms and how the bacteria took over his body in the last days of his life.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sadiya Chowdhury, Muhammad Ibrahim Ali’s mother, Shabana Kousar, said the first sign of her little boy being unwell was a red rash across his lower back.
A full course of antibiotics appeared to help the four-year-old, but when his symptoms persisted two weeks later, a GP advised Ms Kousar to give him Calpol, she said.
Ibrahim’s condition worsened and he developed stomach pains.
He died in an ambulance en route to hospital in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
A week later, his post-mortem test results showed he had Strep A in his blood.
Ms Kousar told Sky News that people should be more aware of the initial symptoms.
She said: “I believe parents should be made aware of the symptoms and act on it if their child is experiencing something similar”.
Azra Ali, Ibrahim’s aunt, told Sky’s Sadiya Chowdhury that the government “needs to provide the correct guidance to local authorities”.
She said: “I’m worried that the public are still unaware of how serious this is as we’ve been told on the news that it’s very rare that children die from this strep A, but unfortunately they’re forgetting that we’ve had six deaths within the space of two weeks and I believe more are to come if the government don’t act quickly.”
Six children have died in the UK after contracting the highly contagious bacterial infection, which is often relatively mild and causes scarlet fever, but can be deadly if it enters the bloodstream and other parts of the body.
Parents are being urged to be vigilant and look out for symptoms which include: pain when swallowing, fever, swollen tonsils with white patches, swollen neck glands, a high temperature or a skin rash.
Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist from The University of Reading said: “The only way of being sure that somebody has got Strep A infection is to take a swab from the back of their throat and culture it in a laboratory.”
He added that while the “initial signals” are good indicators, “they are not proof and people should see their doctors”.
Hanna Roap, a seven-year-old girl from Wales, also died after contracting Strep A.
Her father, Abul Roap, told The Telegraph that his daughter was prescribed steroids for her cough and “never woke up”.
He said Hanna “did not get the right medication” and said if she had been given antibiotics “it could have been potentially a different story.”
While Strep A can be a serious illness, if treated promptly with antibiotics it is less of a threat.
According to the UK Health Security Agency there were 851 cases in the week to 20 November, compared to 186 on average in the same week in previous years.
It advises those who come down with the illness to exclude themselves from nursery, school or work for at least 24 hours after they start antibiotic treatment.
The UKHSA has said the increase in cases is likely the result of the withdrawal of measures implemented during the COVID pandemic.
Microbiologist Dr Simon Clarke, from the University of Reading, said: “It strikes me that as we are seeing with flu at the moment, lack of mixing in kids may have caused a drop in population-wide immunity that could increase transmission, particularly in school age children.”