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Strep A probed by health experts after deaths of six children and rise in infections

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Health experts are investigating cases of Strep A infection after the deaths of six young children and a rise in cases. The UK Health Security Agency ( UKHSA ) said there had been a rise in rare invasive Group A strep this year, particularly in children under 10, with five deaths of under-10s in England since September.

A separate case has been reported in Wales, taking the known UK total to six.Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to deadly diseases.The range of illnesses includes the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.According to UKHSA data, there were 2.3 cases of invasive disease per 100,000 children aged one to four this year in England, compared with an average of 0.5 in the pre-pandemic seasons (2017 to 2019).There have also been 1.1 cases per 100,000 children aged five to nine compared with the pre-pandemic average of 0.3 (2017 to 2019).When looking at the five deaths in England, the last time there was an intensive period of Strep A infection was in 2017/18, when there were four deaths in the equivalent time frame.The UKHSA said investigations are also under way following reports of an increase in lower respiratory tract Group A Strep infections in children over the past few weeks, which have caused severe illness.It said there is no current evidence that a new strain is circulating and the rises are most likely due to high amounts of circulating bacteria and social mixing.Scarlet fever cases have also seen a massive jump.There were 851 cases reported in the week November 14 to

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