Strep A typically affects children under 10.
Irish parents have been told to look out for symptoms of Strep A as schools re-open after the Christmas break.
As children return to classrooms, the risk of viruses spreading is now higher. And with the healthcare system crippling under extreme pressure, parents have been asked not to send their sick children to school or to other childcare facilities.
Cases of RSV, flu, and Covid-19 are increasing among children.
Parents are also still concerned about the spread of scarlet fever, also known as Strep A, after a spike in cases before Christmas.
But what symptoms should we be looking out for?
The HSE confirmed that the main symptoms of Strep A include a fever, a rash, flushed cheeks, and a sore throat. Your child will also have a swollen tongue.
The tongue may be covered in a white coating. This coating will peel and leave the tongue swollen and red. This is known as ‘strawberry tongue’.
The rash is typically found in the joint creases, as well as over the child’s stomach. It can feel rough, like sandpaper.
Children who contract scarlet fever will often have a mild infection. Complications are rare, but they are still possible.
Complications include ear infections, throat abscesses, and pneumonia.
In extreme cases, children may develop kidney damage, as well as heart damage.
The HSE has stressed that complications are low. They can also be prevented if your child receives treatment quickly.
“Keep your children at home from school or childcare facilities.”
Strep A is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A streptococci (GAS).
Earlier this week, CMO Professor Breda Smyth stressed that children should not attend childcare facilities or schools if they’re physically unwell.
“As schools and childcare facilities re-open after the Christmas break, I am urging parents to be vigilant for symptoms of respiratory viruses in children.
“If your child has any new-onset ‘flu-like symptoms such as congestion, cough, runny nose, or high temperature, parents should continue to be mindful of others.
“If possible, keep your children at home from school or childcare facilities.”
Parents should keep their children at home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have completely gone.