Scarlet fever hits Southend but city escapes worst strain of Strep A

Southend has seen five cases of scarlet fever and three cases of strep A but the city has so far escaped the most serious form of the illness, it has been revealed.

Speaking at a council meeting last week, Kay Mitchell, councillor responsible for adult social care and health integration, said: “The UK has experienced and increase in group A streptococcus (GAS) infections in recent weeks.

Cllr Mitchell said the council’s public health team is working closely with the UK Health Security Agency to respond to local cases. This includes advice to help prevent the spread of known cases, general advice on infection prevention and control to schools and in early years settings as well as care settings.

Cllr Mitchell said: “Lots of us carry it in our throat and on our skin and it doesn’t always result in illness. However, GAS does cause a number of infections, some mild and some more serious.

“The most serious infections come from invasive group A streptococcus known as IGAS. In rare cases an IGAS infection can be fatal. 16 fatalities have been reported nationally to December 9.

“Across Southend between September 25 and November 20 we registered five cases of scarlet fever and three cases of gas and no cases of IGAS.”

The council also provided local advice to keep the wider community informed on how to identify cases and what to do if they are unsure such as contacting their GP or NHS 111.

Cllr Mitchell added: “All health professionals have been provided with a clear brief on being extra vigilant to support local parents and families who may have a sick child.

“The director of public health will continue to monitor local developments through our joint surveillance with the UK Health Security Agency, provide advice and support to ensure that all identified cases of scarlet fever or gas are supported effectively to ensure they receive the right care and that measure are in place to minimise the risk of spread.

“No additional action is required in Southend currently.”

Symptoms of strep A include flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, swollen glands or an aching body, a sore throat, a rash that feels rough, like sandpaper – scarlet fever, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting

Most strep A infections are not serious and can be treated with antibiotics.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter