Strep A and Scarlet Fever update

As your GP we are keen to support you in managing sore throats and illness this winter. You may have been alarmed by recent national media coverage of Strep A and Scarlet Fever. Please do NOT panic. The current levels of Strep A infection are not significantly higher than many previous years:

We are just seeing a peak of infections in December rather than the Spring as normal.

Strep A is a really common bug. 1 in 5 children carry this bug in their throats as a normal and healthy part of their flora. It is only when Strep A gets into the wrong place and causes sepsis that we have a problem. Importantly there is usually NO benefit in swabbing the throats of people with mild symptoms as 1 in 5 will be positive from Strep A – this is normal! Most sore throats are also best managed without any antibiotics.

Here is advice from the NICE CKS website: “Sore throat due to a viral or bacterial cause is a self-limiting condition. Symptoms resolve within 3 days in 40% of people, and within 1 week in 85% of people, irrespective of whether or not the sore throat is due to a streptococcal infection”.

What we are really keen to emphasise is that sore throat alone is not a problem but sepsis is. Sepsis occurs when bacteria get into the blood stream. People and children with sepsis may

1. Have a fever (over 38 degrees C) but with cold hands and feet
2. Be drowsy, un-rousable or floppy (high risk symptom – seek immediate help!)
3. Be confused or disorientated (high risk symptom – seek immediate help!)
4. Look unwell, mottled or pale
5. May be breathing quickly or working hard to breath (sucking in between their ribs or under their ribs)
6. May not be passing urine as often as normal
7. May have a fast heart rate. In general kids that are unwell will not be playing, running around, smiling or eating normally.

We strongly recommend downloading the excellent HANDi App from the NHS to help you manage your kids illness and to help you known when to seek help. You can download from Google Play or the App Store. You can find out more information about this app from this NHS Devon video: “The HANDi App is so quick and easy to use” – Alex’s story

The risk of serious illness remains very low. Please help us to help you by using the HANDi app to assess your child’s symptoms. We are keen to emphasise that your GP surgery is open and we will see you if needed. However we can only offer this quick access if people are sensible and use tools like the HANDi app first.

If you think you are seriously unwell, whatever your age, please do not delay seeking help.

With best wishes

The Partners of Pathfields Medical Group