Three more children die of Strep A in UK's growing outbreak

Another THREE kids die of Strep A in UK as death toll hits 19 and pharmacists get power to prescribe alternative antibiotics because of drug shortage

  • Some 19 children have died with the bacterial infection across the UK 
  • Pharmacists will now be able to prescribe alternative antibiotics for Strep A 
  • READ MORE: Prescriptions for penicillin increase five-fold in three weeks 

Another three children have died with Strep A amid Britain’s ever-growing outbreak, official data revealed today.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show some 16 children in England have now died with an infection, up from 13 last week. 

Three other child deaths have been recorded in Belfast and Wales, taking the UK total to 19. 

Meanwhile, pharmacists will be able to prescribe alternative antibiotics to deal with the bacteria under Serious Shortage Protocols introduced by the Government.

What is Strep A?

Group A Streptococcus (Group A Strep or Strep A) bacteria can cause many different infections.

The bacteria are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, and some people have no symptoms.

Infections caused by Strep A range from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases.

They include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause an illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

What is invasive Group A Streptococcal disease?

Invasive Group A Strep disease is sometimes a life-threatening infection in which the bacteria have invaded 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.


The move means chemists can legally supply other forms of the medicine if they do not have the specific formulation stated on the prescription, such as an oral solution.

The protocols, which cover the entire UK, are intended to lessen the need for patients to return to their GP for a different prescription.

The Department of Health, which previously insisted there was no shortage of the drugs, said demand for penicillin is surging due to the Strep A outbreak.

It said the ‘the increased demand means that some pharmacists are experiencing temporary and localised supply issues, and may not have the specific formulation listed on the prescription’.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) yesterday said five times more prescriptions for penicillin are being dished out compared with three weeks ago.

The move comes after official data today showed NHS staff are dealing with a huge surge in 111 calls triggered by the Strep A panic.

NHS bosses claimed the current surge in winter viruses was also behind the ‘huge increase’ in demand for the service. 

The Strep A death toll among childreis higher than expected for this time of year, officials say. 

A spike in cases ‘several fold-higher than pre-pandemic levels’ have been logged the UK, as well as other parts of Europe. 

Strep A bacteria can cause a range of other infections, including impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria can, in exceptionally rare cases, cause invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS). 

Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of this invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

Government figures show iGAS cases are currently four times higher than normal among children aged between one and four in Britain. 

It is understood that health officials do not believe the number of scarlet fever infections has yet peaked, suggesting more deaths are likely. 

Three other deaths of children have been recorded in Belfast and Wales, taking the UK total to 19. 

In Wales, a spokesman for Public Health Wales said: ‘Public Health Wales has confirmed it is investigating the deaths of two children as possible iGAS cases.

‘Due to the risk of identification, Public Health Wales will not confirm numbers of deaths lower than five.’

However the families of seven-year-old Hanna Roap from Penarth, South Wales, and a child from Powys who has not been named, have confirmed the cause of death of both children was iGAS.

Reacting to the new protocols, health minister Will Quince said: ‘The increased demand for the antibiotics prescribed to treat Strep A has meant some pharmacists have been unable to supply the medicine shown on the prescription.

‘These Serious Shortage Protocols will allow pharmacists to supply an alternative form of penicillin, which will make things easier for them, patients, and GPs.

‘We are taking decisive action to address these temporary issues and improve access to these medicines by continuing to work with manufacturers and wholesalers to speed up deliveries, bring forward stock they have to help ensure it gets to where it’s needed, and boost supply to meet demand as quickly as possible.’

NHS England data showed more than 706,000 non-emergency 111 calls were taken last week, up 60 per cent on the 440,000-plus recorded the week before 

It marked the highest call number on record barring two weeks in March 2020, with more than 790,000 recorded in the week ending March 22 that year.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: ‘This huge increase in calls to NHS 111 is understandable with concerns about winter viruses [and] Strep A a top priority for the public.

‘But it is more important than ever that the public uses 111 online where possible to get important information about non-emergency health conditions and to be signposted to the best possible care.’

In related news…

A five-year-old boy who died of Strep A was misdiagnosed as having flu, his family claims

Five times more prescriptions for penicillin are being dished out compared with three weeks ago amid the Strep A outbreak, experts  say

An expert has blamed the GP appointment crisis for fuelling the UK’s unusually bad Strep A outbreak 

From the ‘bubbly’ seven-year-old whose father desperately tried CPR to save, to the four-year-old who loved exploring: The victims of Strep A so far

Muhammad Ibrahim Ali

The four-year-old boy attended Oakridge School and Nursery in High Wycombe, Bucks.

He died at home from a cardiac arrest in mid-November after contracting a Strep A infection.

He was prescribed antibiotics.

His mother Shabana Kousar told the Bucks Free Press: ‘The loss is great and nothing will replace that. 

‘He was very helpful around the house and quite adventurous, he loved exploring and enjoyed the forest school, his best day was a Monday and said how Monday was the best day of the week.

Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, who attended Oakridge School and Nursery in High Wycombe, Bucks, died after contracting the bacterial infection

Hannah Roap 

The ‘bubbly’ and ‘beautiful’ seven-year-old is the only child to have died from Strep A in Wales so far.

Her devastated parents told how their ‘hearts had broken into a million pieces’. 

The first signs of the infection were mild, Hanna’s father Abul took his daughter to the GP after cough got worse overnight. 

She was prescribed steroids and sent home, but she died less than 12 hours later. 

Mr Roap recalled how he desperately tried to resuscitate his child: ‘She stopped breathing at 8pm but we were not immediately aware because she was sleeping.

‘I did CPR, I tried to revive her but it didn’t work. Paramedics arrived and continued the CPR but it was too late.’   

Mr Roap said the family was ‘utterly devastated’ and awaiting answers from the hospital.

The family believe she might have lived if she was initially given antibiotics. 

Hanna Roap, who attended Victoria Primary School in Penarth, Wales, died after contracting Strep A last month. Her family say they have been ‘traumatised’ by her death

Stella-Lily McCorkindale

Five-year-old Stella-Lily McCokindale is the ninth British child to have died following a Strep A infection, and the first in Northern Ireland. 

She died on December 5 at Royal Belfast Hospital.

In a tribute on social media, her father Robert said the pair had ‘loved every minute’ of being together as they went on scooter and bike rides.

‘If prays, thoughts, feelings and love could of worked she would of walked out of that hospital holding her daddy’s hand,’ he said.  

Stella attended Black Mountain Primary School, who said she was ‘a bright and talented little girl’ and described her death as a ‘tragic loss’. 

Five-year-old Stella-Lily McCokindale who attended Black Mountain Primary School in Belfast died in early December after contracting Strep A

Jax Albert Jefferys

A five-year-old boy who died of Strep A was misdiagnosed as having flu, his family has claimed.

Jax Albert Jefferys, from Waterlooville, Hampshire, died on Thursday, December 1 — becoming one of 16 British children to have died of the usually-mild bug so far this winter.

His grieving mother Charlene today told how she had sought medical advice three times during the four days leading up to Jax’s death and was told he was suffering from influenza A. She described Jax as a ‘cheeky, little chappy’. 

But later tests revealed he actually had Step A, she said, which is spreading rapidly across Britain.

Jax Albert Jefferys, a five-year-old from Waterlooville, Hampshire, died on Thursday, December 1, from Strep A

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