Strep A outbreak: School confirms six-year-old pupil dies following illness, leaving community in ‘shock’

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A six-year-old pupil from Ashford Church of England School has died after falling ill with Group A streptococcal infection.

A six-year-old primary school pupil has died amid a Strep A outbreak, leaving the community in ‘shock’. According to a report by The Independent, the death was confirmed by the UK Health Security Agency South East’s health protection consultant, Dr Claire Windslade.

In an email sent to parents, which was obtained by the PA news agency, the Year One pupil from Ashford Church of England School caught the invasive Group A streptococcal (iGAS) infection. The email 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).

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"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 the news has come 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 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."

According to the Government website, Group A Streptococcus (GAS; Streptococcus pyogenes) is a bacterium which can colonise the throat, skin and anogenital tract. It causes a diverse range of skin, soft tissue and respiratory tract infections, including tonsillitis, pharyngitis, scarlet fever, impetigo, erysipelas, cellulitis and pneumonia.

In rare cases, patients may go on to develop post-streptococcal complications, such as rheumatic fever and glomerulonephritis. GAS can occasionally cause infections that are extremely severe. Invasive GAS (iGAS) is an infection where the bacteria is isolated from a normally sterile body site, such as the blood. Any GAS manifestation can be associated with development of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, although patients with necrotising fasciitis are at highest risk.

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GAS is spread by close contact between individuals, through respiratory droplets and direct skin contact. It can also be transmitted environmentally, through contact with contaminated objects, such as towels or bedding and ingestion of food contaminated by a carrier. Anyone experiencing such symptoms should call 111 immediately.

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