Group A Streptococcus – information for families and carers of children
You may have seen reports about a higher-than-usual level of Group A streptococcus (GAS) infections in children this year, and we understand if you are concerned. GAS is a common bacteria – lots of people carry it without being unwell. It can cause many common mild infections, including sore throats or scarlet fever, which can be easily treated with antibiotics. The information below explains how it is spread, and what to look for when your child is unwell.
How is it spread?
GAS spreads by close contact with an infected person. It can be passed on through coughs and sneezes, or from a wound.
Which infections does GAS cause?
The bacteria usually causes a mild infection, producing sore throats or scarlet fever, which can be easily treated with antibiotics.
What is invasive group A strep?
This is when the bacteria gets into the bloodstream and causes serious illness – called invasive Group A strep (iGAS). These cases are very rare.
Symptoms of mild GAS infections
Symptoms of mild infections include: sore throat; fever; chills; muscle aches; and in cases of scarlet fever, a rash and a white coating on the tongue, which peels leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in bumps.
When to contact us:
If your child is not recovering after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection, and you are concerned they are becoming more unwell
If your child is drinking much less (50% less) than normal
If your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more, or shows other signs of dehydration
If your baby is under three months and has a temperature of 38C, or is three to six months old and has a temperature of 39C or higher
If your child is very tired or irritable
Call 999 or go to A&E if:
Your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs