ADVICE for worried parents and healthcare professionals on the higher than usual cases of Group Strep A, including scarlet fever, has been issued by three medical royal colleges.
The advice from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Royal College of GPs is aimed at parents and carers, and healthcare professionals.
Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that cases of Group A Strep infection continue to remain higher than typically seen at this time of year. The statement offers reassurance that currently there is no evidence of a new strain circulating and that the increase is most likely related to "high amounts of circulating bacteria and social mixing".
The statement advises clinicians to maintain a high index of suspicion in relevant patients and "think Group A Strep", as early recognition and prompt initiation of specific and supportive therapy can make a significant difference.
Urgent notification to UKHSA Health Protection Teams of scarlet fever and iGAS infection is essential to facilitate immediate public health actions including contact tracing.
The statement also notes increased demand for penicillin and amoxicillin as the number of cases of Strep A has risen. Healthcare professionals are advised that they may need to prescribe tablets and capsules and provide guidance on how children could be encouraged to swallow these.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has called on the Government for clear messaging for parents on when – and when not – to seek medical help as GP teams grapple with Strep A cases.
Professor Hawthorne said: "Across the country, GPs and our teams are seeing a rising number of parents who are concerned that their child is unwell and may have a serious case of Strep A. This is understandable given that we are seeing more Strep A infections than we normally would at this time of year - and especially as several serious cases have had tragic consequences - but many surgeries are struggling to cope with the additional demand on top of existing workload and workforce pressures facing general practice.
"We do not want to discourage patients who are worried about their children to seek medical attention, particularly given the current circumstances. But we do want to see good public health messaging across the UK making it clear to parents when they should seek help and the different care options available to them – as well as when they don’t need to seek medical attention."
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