Concern is growing over Strep A cases in the United Kingdom after an eighth child is reported to have died after contracting an invasive form of the Strep A bacteria.

Morelands Primary, in Waterlooville in the English county of Hampshire, reportedly said it is "absolutely devastated" by the loss of one of its pupils.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it will not comment on individual cases.

As reported by the BBC, Morelands Primary School headteacher Alison Syred-Paul said: "We are absolutely devastated by the loss of one of our young pupils and offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the child's family at this extremely sad time.

"We ask that the privacy of the family is respected.

"As a precaution, we have been raising awareness amongst parents, carers and our school community of the signs and symptoms... and what to do if a child develops these."

Simon Bryant, director of public health at Hampshire County Council, reportedly said the authority is "working closely with the school to raise awareness amongst parents and carers of the signs and symptoms of Group A Streptococcal infections".

He added: "I would stress that contracting [this] disease from another person is very rare.

"Most people who come into contact with Group A Streptococcal infections remain well and symptom-free - and therefore there is no reason for children to be kept home if well."

Online NHS information suggests Strep A infections such as scarlet fever can be treated with the antibiotics penicillin and amoxicillin.

Asked this afternoon about the recent rise in cases, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's official spokesman said: "We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year compared to usual.

"The bacteria we know causes a mild infection which is easily treated with antibiotics and in rare circumstances it can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness.

"It is still uncommon but it's important parents are on the lookout for symptoms.

"But the NHS is well prepared to deal with situations like this, working with the UK Health Security Agency."

He said any concerned parents should contact the NHS.

The British governemtn said it is unaware of any amoxicillin shortage after the head of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, Leyla Hannbeck, tweeted: "Pharmacies are reporting shortage of amoxicillin liquid for children at a time when cases of Strep A are rising."

Strep A infections are usually mild and can be easily treated with antibiotics.

Illnesses caused by the Group A strep bacteria include skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

There has been a big leap in the number of scarlet fever cases.

There were 851 cases reported from 14-20 November, compared to an average of 186 for the same timeframe in previous years.

Symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, headache and fever, along with a fine, pinkish or red body rash with a "sandpapery" feel.

On darker skin, the rash can be harder to see but will still be "sandpapery".

If a parent or carer suspects scarlet fever, they should call their GP or 111 as prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent serious illness and stop the spread of infection.

Strep A infections can develop into a more serious invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) infection - though this is rare.

Officials have noticed an increase in iGAS cases this year, particularly in children under ten.

A rise in the number of scarlet fever cases has been recorded in children across Northern Ireland.

While Strep A is a notifiable illness in Ireland, scarlet fever is not, unlike in the North and the UK.

A statement from the Health Service Executive said that most cases of scarlet fever in Ireland will be among children under ten years of age.

Clinical Lead in Infection Control with the Irish College of GPs Dr Scott Walkin said Group A Strep (or Strep A) is quite a common infection.

He said that between 10% to 15% of people will have Strep A in their throats or the back of their noses and that does not cause any problems.

Dr Walkin, who is a practising GP in Co Mayo, said that if Strep A "gets into the wrong place in the body" that "can be very troublesome".

Dr Walkin said he has not seen a case of Strep A recently but has seen cases of the more common version that causes a sore throat.

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Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Walkin said that is very uncommon but sometimes it does happen, and it can be dangerous in those circumstances.

"Then when it does cause difficulties, the commoner thing that it will do is it will cause a sore throat, but sometimes it can spread elsewhere and if it gets into the lungs, it can cause pneumonia or if it gets into the blood it can cause sepsis."

He said that the likely explanation for the increase in lots of viruses, such as RSV and the flu, this year coming earlier and also the increase in the number of serious Strep A infections is due to less exposure of the immune system to these infections during the lockdown periods.

"If the immune system isn't being challenged, then its ability to deal with infections just dips a little bit, and now that it's the clinical wintertime, it's colder outside, we're mixing much more indoors than we were during the summertime.. there's increased opportunity for infections to be passed from one person to another.

"When you combine that with an increased susceptibility because of less immune training that means that there is a higher chance of getting some of these bugs."

He said that for children, when they become seriously ill they can do so very quickly and can deteriorate very fast no matter what the viral or bacterial cause.

He said that a persistent fever, particularly a persistent fever which is not responding to the standard pain relief treatment like paracetamol or ibuprofen, does require an opinion from a doctor.

"Some people are more susceptible because of weak immune systems, or because of underlying medical problems and people with all sorts of underlying problems need to be seen a bit quicker than people who don't have those underlying conditions."

He said that a child who is drowsy all the time, is floppy or weak needs to be seen by a doctor as well as a child who is not eating, drinking or passing urine.