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Parents warned after six year-old dies following bacteria outbreak

Parents are warned to look for signs of fever and swollen neck glands after six-year-old died and another taken to hospital following outbreak of Strep A at Surrey primary school

  • One child has died after a rare bacteria outbreak at a Surrey primary school
  • The six-year-old attended Ashford Church of England Primary School
  • A second child is being treated in hospital with a course of antibiotics 

Parents have been warned to look out for signs of fever and swollen neck glands after a six-year-old died and another was taken to hospital following an outbreak of Strep A at a Surrey primary school. 

The year one Ashford Church of England School pupil contracted the Group A streptococcal (iGAS) infection, which causes to scarlet fever – a disease associated with the Victorians.  

There have also been a rise of cases in Sheffield and Scotland, fuelled by an outbreak at Annanhill Primary School in Kilmarnock – prompting warnings for parents to look out for symptoms. 

These include high fever with severe muscle aches, pain in one area of the body and unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea.  

The second at the school in Surrey who contracted Strep A is believed to be recovering in hospital. Staff and pupils have been given antibiotics by specialists from the UK Health Security Agency. A third child from the same area of Ashford was also said to be suffering from scarlet fever.  

The child who died is understood to be a six-year-old who attended Ashford Church of England Primary School, who tragically succumbed to the invasive Group A streptococcal (iGAS) infection

The child’s death was confirmed by the UK Health Security Agency South East’s health protection consultant Dr Claire Winslade.

She said: ‘We are extremely saddened to hear about the death of a pupil at Ashford Church of England School, and our thoughts are with their family, friends and the school community.

‘As a precautionary measure, we have recommended antibiotics to pupils and staff in the same year groups as the individuals affected. We have provided advice to the school to help prevent further cases and will continue to monitor the situation.’

Group A streptococcus (or Strep A) is known to cause scarlet fever, throat infections and, in very rare cases, invasive disease.

What is Strep A and how can you spot it? 

Strep A is a Group A streptococcal (iGAS) infection, which affects the throat and skin

Most cases cause only mild illness, but some can be life-threatening 

The infection can lead to Scarlet Fever, which was rife in the Victorian Era

Symptoms include a rash on the throat, tongue and skin, and vomiting and diarrhoea

The illness is treatable with antibiotics 

Source: UKHSA  

This can occur when bacteria get into parts of the body where bacteria are not usually found, such as the blood, muscle or the lungs.

It can happen if the bacteria get past a person’s defences, such as through an open wound or when a person’s immune system is depleted.

Most people who come into contact with the bacteria remain well and symptom-free.

An email sent by the school to parents said: ‘It is with the deepest regret and sadness that I have to inform you that a child in Tiger class, year one has sadly died after developing invasive Group A streptococcal (IGAS).

‘We are also aware that a child in a year 2 class has developed the same illness but is showing positive signs of recovery.’

The school said it comes as a ‘shock’ for the whole community and that staff were seeking advice from Public Health England on actions they should take and advice they should give to parents.

Surrey County Council director of public health Ruth Hutchinson was quoted as saying: ‘We are deeply saddened by the death of a pupil at Ashford Church of England School and we offer our sincere condolences to their family, friends and the whole school community, who are in our thoughts.’

Those with the above symptoms should call 111 immediately. 

Ruth Hutchinson, Director of Public Health, Surrey County Council said: ‘We are deeply saddened by the death of a pupil at Ashford Church of England School and we offer our sincere condolences to their family, friends and the whole school community, who are in our thoughts.

‘Our school relationships team, available 24/7, has provided the school with guidance during this tragic time and our public health team are working closely with UKHSA, school leaders and health partners to take appropriate health protection measures and ensure children, parents and carers at the school are appropriately supported.’

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