Doctor explains when children need to go to A&E as he details early Strep A symptoms
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The UK is in the midst of a Strep A resurgence following a drop in immunity after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Murugesan Raja, a Manchester-based GP, has explained the early signs of the potentially life-threatening disease, which has claimed the lives of nine children in recent weeks.
The doctor, who is the clinical lead for respiratory medicine, told the Manchester Evening News: "The last three weeks have been very busy in general practice with children coming in for all kinds of illnesses. We'd normally see mild infections but it just got much more intense in the last two, three weeks.
"And we'd normally see illnesses like scarlet fever start in December, but cases have really multiplied quite a lot. The main symptoms to look out for are a sore throat, a temperature of usually no more than 38.3C, headaches and vomiting, a flushed face.
"Younger children might complain of feeling nauseous."
The doctor explained that if a child is suffering from scarlet fever - which is caused by Group A streptococci (Strep A) - they are likely to have rashes.
As supported by the NHS guidance on the illness, Dr Raja added that a child with scarlet fever may also have a white coating on their tongue which peels, leaving them with what's known as 'strawberry tongue'.
He continued: "The texture of the rash will be like sandpaper, rough to the touch.
"The rashes can spread across the trunk and back, and they can blanche when you press against them. "For darker skins, this might look different so parents should be aware of any changes to colour.
"The rashes can often appear in the creases of the body - along elbows, backs of knees, armpits.
"Strawberry tongue can also be a key symptom, although it's sometimes harder to see."
The GP said that if a parent notices that their child has any of these symptoms, they should go to A&E immediately.
He warned that while the illness can be treated effectively with antibiotics, early intervention is key as it is a fast spreading disease.
"Most of the time, it's mild and the child gets better," Dr Raja said. "But if they aren't getting better and start getting more complications, it can lead to things like abscesses behind the tonsils and infected sinuses.
"After that, it can start affecting the kidneys and the walls of the heart, causing problems breathing - those severe cases can take around two weeks to develop."
Other symptoms which warrant immediate medical intervention include being hot to touch, lethargy, convulsions difficulty staying awake and skin with a pale tint.
Dr Raja stressed: "Strep A can affect the chest, that's when we start seeing children going to hospital with pneumonia.
"Any of these symptoms is a 999 call or a visit to A&E."