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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Strep A

HSE investigating if death of four-year-old child is linked to Strep A

A total of 55 cases of Strep A have been confirmed in ireland.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 6th 2022, 1:25 PM

THE HSE IS investigating if a four-year-old child has died from Strep A in Ireland. 

Dr Eamon O’Moore of the HSE’s National Health Protection told RTÉ’s News at One that while the cause of death in the child has not yet been officially confirmed, Strep A is being “actively investigated” as a potential cause of death. 

There have been a total of 55 confirmed cases of invasive Strep A confirmed in Ireland so far, according to O’Moore. He said one around one third of these cases were in children. Two deaths of older people have been confirmed to be linked to Strep A, the doctor said. 

He added that it is “inevitable” that there will be an increase in the number of cases of Strep A across the nation. 

The doctor said the child’s death occurred in the Area A region which includes parts of north Dublin as well as the northeast of the country. 

Strep A infections are usually mild and treatable with antibiotics but people can become very ill, and develop scarlet fever. 

The fever causes a rash and flu-like symptoms. Rarely, the infection can lead to invasive group A streptococcal infection or iGAS, which can be fatal.

Case in the North

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that a five-year-old girl in the North has died from an illness linked to the bacterial infection Strep A. 

The young girl became ill last week and was receiving treatment at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. 

The girl was a pupil of Black Mountain Primary School. The Public Health Agency (PHA) sent a letter to parents at the school stating that one of the pupils had a severe form of Strep A, and children were asked to attend a doctor’s clinic and to take a preventative course of antibiotics. 

The girl had been in intensive care since falling severely ill, she passed away on Monday. 

SDLP West Belfast representative Paul Doherty said the entire community has been devastated by her death. 

“There has been an outpouring of grief right across this area after news broke on Monday evening of the passing of a five-year-old child. This is a devastating loss that has been felt throughout our community and we have seen a huge response to support the family affected.

“I’m on the ground in this area every day and there is a real sense of disbelief that this has happened, particularly at this time of year when so many families are looking forward to Christmas with their children,” he said. 

Doherty also expressed his support for the staff and pupils at Black Mountain Primary School, and stressed the importance of them now receiving support for the coming months. 

The school is now being deep-cleaned, and local authorities are liaising with staff to take preventative measures.  An open day that was due to take place at the school has been cancelled. 

The news comes as schools across the UK have been on high alert due to a rise in Strep A related illnesses. 

Eight other children have died from a form of Strep A in England and Wales. 

Last week the public in Northern Ireland was urged to be be aware of Strep A and scarlet fever symptoms by the Public Health Agency. 

It said that clusters of scarlet fever have been reported at schools in Antrim, Belfast, Bangor and Craigavon. 

A UK Government minister has suggested the possibility of giving to all children at schools affected by Strep A. 

Schools Minister Nick Glibb said that the UK Health and Security Agency is working closely with schools to provide advice to parents. 

They key signs of a Strep A infection to look out for are a sore throat, fever, high temperature and a red or raised rash on the skin. 

- With reporting by Garreth MacNamee

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