Group A streptococcus (GAS) commonly called Strep A has been in the news recently and is causing fear in the hearts of parents up and down the country. There are different strains with Streptococcus pyogenes being a very contagious strain.
- Strep A is commonly found in the throat and on skin and can be completely asymptomatic. Where it causes an infection, it affects the throat and skin commonly. It can cause tonsillitis, impetigo and scarlet fever.
- It is transmitted by droplets from saliva particularly when in close contact like in schools.
- It affects children under 10 mostly. It is also more severe in children or older adults with chronic diseases.
- It incubates for up to 6 days before symptoms occur.
- Symptoms are usually self-limiting but affected patients can remain infectious 2-3 weeks after onset of symptoms unless treated with antibiotics.
What symptoms should parents look out for?
- Sore throat
- Fever usualy greater than 38.3°
- Blanching,pinpoint, red rash. May present differently in dark skin but feels like sandpaper.Palms and soles are spared.
- Loss of appetite
- Dry nappies
- Nausea and vomiting
What should you do if you suspect your child has GAS disease?
The advice from the government is to contact your GP. You must bear in mind that demand is very high. Most practices have a rule to see children under 5 on the same day. If your child is over 5, mention that you are concerned about Strep A when you contact the practice. Majority of practices will offer you at least a telephone call with a GP.
Management of GAS.
- Keep your child hydrated.
- Give paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain and fever if needed.
- Antibiotics are recommended and first line is penicillin. There are alternatives including azithromycin if your child has a confirmed allergy to penicillin.
There has been some concern about unavailabilty of liquid antibiotics. It is worth teaching your child how to swallow pills. Check out this guide.
Stay safe and healthy.
Dr Simi MBBS MRCGP MSc Health Policy and Leadership DRCOG DFSRH PgCert Med Ed