HSE confirm death of child, 4, linked to Strep A

HSE confirm death of child, 4, linked to Strep A

Earlier today, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that the Government is monitoring the situation very carefully, adding that the CMO and her team are looking at the potential use of antibiotics for children in settings where outbreaks.

The HSE has confirmed the death of a four-year-old child in the Dublin region was linked to an infection of Strep A.

In a statement, it said local public health is supporting the family and the child's school.

Dr Éamonn O’Moore, Director, HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said: “The news of a child death with Strep A will be worrying for parents, but it’s important to know that most children who get ill from a Group A Strep infections will have a mild illness which can be treated with antibiotics.

“Group A Streptococci are a common bacteria that are often and usually relatively mild and self-limiting. They can cause infections like tonsillitis and pharyngitis and scarlet fever."

Mr O'Moore added that HPSC is "closely monitoring Strep A and Scarlet Fever and as yet there is no evidence that a new strain is in circulation". 

He stated that  increased social mixing following the pandemic compared to previous years as well as increases in other respiratory viruses are factors in increased infection.

"If anyone is unwell with winter virus type symptoms, stay at home to stop the spread, and this includes not sending sick children to crèche or school until they are better.” 

The HPSC has contacted schools and childcare providers with information on Strep A infections, including Scarlet Fever, as well as other winter viruses.

Meanwhile, it was announced today that a memo due to be circulated to schools from the HSE will advise principals and parents that children who are feeling unwell should stay at home from school until certain symptoms have finished.

HSE memo to parents

A letter due to be issued this evening to schools from the HSE and seen by the Irish Examiner warns parents about symptoms to watch out for.

The letter reads that the most important measure is for children to stay at home from school if they are feeling unwell.

It reads that many children may have a runny nose or a slight cough in the winter season.

However, if a child is feeling unwell, they should be at home, for example if they may have; a fever, cough and sore throat.

The memo reads: “They should stay at home until those symptoms have finished.” The HSE has said there has been a large increase in general viral infections among children and young people this winter.

Rare bacterial infection

There have also been recent concerns about a rare bacterial infection, this infection is iGAS (an invasive Group A Streptococcal infection). It is also known as Group A Strep.

“We have seen a significant increase in the usual winter viral infections.

“This includes an increase in flu.

“This is because children are mixing together more. In previous years social contact was much reduced.

“This in turn reduced the rates of routine infection,” the letter reads.

The HSE in its memo say that severe infection in Group A Strep is rare and Group A Strep more commonly causes infections such as tonsillitis, scarlet fever and skin infections.

“Ireland has seen cases of more serious infections recently.

“But so far there has been no increase compared to what we saw before the Covid-19 pandemic,” the letter reads.

The letter to schools, which is to be shared with parents, also advises that children are up to date on all recommended vaccinations and said this will help children from getting an infection and — make them less likely to be unwell if they do get an infection.

There is no vaccine against many viral illnesses or Strep A.

Earlier today, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that the Government is monitoring the situation very carefully, adding that the CMO and her team are looking at the potential use of antibiotics for children in settings where outbreaks.

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