Four primary school children have died after contracting Strep A.
The Strep A bacteria can be life-threatening and lead to scarlet fever, which was rife in the Victorian Era.
Within the space of a week a school child in Wales, West London, Surrey and a child in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire have lost their lives to the kill bug.
Here is everything you need to know about the Strep A bacteria outbreak:
Although Strep A can cause a lot of different serious illnesses, it tends to begin with a few typical symptoms. This includes a rash, a sore throat, flushed cheeks, muscle aches, a high fever, an ear infection and sores on the skin
What is strep A?
Group A Streptococcus (Group A Strep or Strep A) are bacteria which can cause infections in the throat, skin and respiratory tract.
These infections include strep throat, tonsillitis and the skin infection impetigo.
But it can cause scarlet fever and lead to rheumatic fever if it is untreated.
The bacterium is very contagious and is passed on in coughs and sneezes.
Like many bugs it is more likely to spread in crowded places such as schools and nurseries.
What are the symptoms of strep A?
Although Strep A can cause a lot of different serious illnesses, it tends to begin with a few typical symptoms.
The signs of a Strep A infection include a rash, a sore throat, flushed cheeks, muscle aches, a high fever, an ear infection and sores on the skin.
Those with these symptoms should call 111 immediately.
The symptoms should last for a week, according to the NHS.
Some people carrying Strep A do not have any symptoms, but they are still just as likely to pass on the bug as those with a visible illness.
It usually takes two to five days to become ill after being exposed to the bacteria.
What is invasive Group A Streptococcal disease?
Invasive Group A Strep disease can be a life-threatening infection.
This can happen when the bacteria invade parts of the body, such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs.
Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.
Necrotising fasciitis is also known as the ‘flesh-eating disease’ and can occur if a wound gets infected.
Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is a rapidly progressing infection causing low blood pressure/shock and damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver and lungs.
This type of toxic shock has a high death rate.
How does the bacteria spread?
The killer bug spreads through cough droplets, sneezes, talking and skin-to-skin contact.
In rare cases, Strep A bacteria is spread through food that has not been handles properly.
The bacterium is more likely to spread in crowded places, such as schools, nurseries or if someone in a Houshold is infected.
People who have impetigo skin sores caused by Strep A bacteria, are advised not to share flannels, sheets or towels with others.
Washable toys should also be washed to help prevent the spread.
You can also avoid passing on by washing hands your frequently and coughing into a tissue rather than into your hand.
The killer bug spreads through cough droplets, sneezes, talking and skin-to-skin contact. In rare cases, Strep A bacteria is spread through food that has not been handles properly
Strep A is a bacterium which can cause infections in the throat, skin and respiratory tract. If an infection is left untreated it can cause serious complications. Ear infections, toxic shock syndrome and kidney inflammation are all complications that can occur
Can it kill?
Most cases of Strep A only cause mild illness such as a sore throat.
But in some instances, it can be life-threatening.
If an infection is left untreated it can cause serious complications.
Ear infections, toxic shock syndrome and kidney inflammation are all complications that can occur.
Strep A is the bacteria responsible for scarlet fever.
It causes a sore throat and tonsils, pain when swallowing, fever, muscle aches and pains, tiredness and in some cases death.
In the Victorian era between 1820 and 1880 there was a world pandemic of scarlet fever.
There was also several severe epidemics in Europe and North America.
However, since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 at St. Mary’s Hospital in London by Alexander Fleming, the number of deaths from infection have been greatly reduced.
Historically scarlet fever killed about one in five people it infected.
However, the creation of antibiotics brought the death rate down to less than 1 per cent.
But currently, there is no vaccine available for Strep A.
Because it is a bacterial infection, a doctor will typically prescribe antibiotics to treat infections such as scarlet fever and impetigo.
After a full 24 hours of antibiotics, people are generally no longer be contagious.
Anyone thought to have invasive Group A Streptococcal disease should seek medical help immediately. Antibiotics, other drugs and intensive medical attention are likely to be needed.
Severe forms of the disease will usually need to be treated in hospital.
Are some people more susceptible?
Strep A is more common in children between the ages of five and 15 than adults.
It is also rare in children under three years old.
But adults over the age of 65 are susceptible to the bacteria.
You are at a higher risk of catching it if you are close to someone who has Strep A.
People with weakened immune systems can also have a higher chance of being infected with the bacteria.
This includes people with HIV, AIDS or cancer, or anyone who has had an organ transplant.
Where is the Strep A outbreak?
Four school children have died of Strep A as the deadly bacterial outbreak continues to spread across Britain.
Children in South Wales, West London, Surrey and a child in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire have died.
There is no indication that the four deaths are in any way related.
The news comes after two primary school pupils, one in Wales and another in Surrey, died of invasive Strep A less than a week apart