20 December 2022

Rise in cases of strep A and scarlet fever

Viruses that cause sore throats, colds and coughs are in high circulation as we move further into winter.

Any illness in children can be very concerning. For the majority of children, however, these illnesses will be minor, and care can be provided at home with simple measures such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, and drinking plenty to help relieve symptoms. If your child only has a sore throat these measures work well, however it is important to keep a close eye on your child.

Most of these viruses usually resolve without needing special medical treatment or medicines, however children can develop a bacterial infection in addition to a virus, which can make them more unwell. One of these bacteria is called Group A streptococci. These bacteria cause respiratory and skin infections such as strep throat, scarlet fever and impetigo.

In very rare cases Group A strep bacteria can cause a more serious illness known as invasive Group A Strep where hospital treatment may be required. Group A strep has been in the news lately as it has been found in some children who have become very unwell very quickly.

Group A strep usually causes a mild illness with fever and a sore throat (strep throat) but not a runny nose or cough. Your child may be unwell for a few days and antibiotics may help them recover quicker.

More information on strep A and scarlet fever, and guidance on when to seek medical advice, is available on the gov.uk website along with the following useful blogs:

As a parent, if you think your child is seriously ill, trust your judgement and in an emergency dial 999.