Expert pharmacist on when ‘you should call 999’ if infected with Strep A – symptoms
Superintendent Pharmacist Claire Nevinson said: “Group Strep A usually causes a mild illness with fever and a sore throat, often called a ‘Strep throat’.” Strep throat typically differs from a cold in that there is “not a runny nose and, usually, not much of a cough”. “Your child may be poorly for a few days but will usually recover with rest at home and medicines such as paracetamol, to relieve their symptoms,” added Nevinson.
Yet, in more severe cases, antibiotics will need to be prescribed and, in rare cases, it could turn into a life-threatening illness.
Known as “Invasive Group A Strep”, Nevinson explained: “This occurs when the bacteria get into parts of the body, like the lungs or bloodstream.
“It causes serious disease, which requires urgent medical attention. You should call 999 or go to A&E if your child is having difficulty breathing.”
Nevinson added that an urgent call to 999 is needed if “there are pauses when your child breathes”.
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If a child “is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake, or if your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue or grey”, call for an ambulance.
“On black or brown skin this might be easier to see on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet,” said Nevinson.
Group A Strep could also cause Scarlet fever, which leads to the following symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Fine pinkish or red body rash with tiny rough pimples.
“On darker skin, the rash can be more difficult to see, but the skin will have a sandpaper-like feel. They may also have a very red tongue or lips,” Nevinson stated.
Nevinson advised: “You should contact NHS 111 or your GP if you are worried your child has Scarlet fever.
“Early treatment with antibiotics is important to reduce the risk of complications.”
Nevinson added: “If your child has Scarlet fever, you should keep them at home until at least 24 hours after their antibiotic treatment has started to avoid spreading the infection to other people.”
If, at any point, a child is unwell and is getting worse, has gone off their food, or has a temperature of 38°C or higher, “you should contact NHS 111 or your GP”.
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This is advised “even if they are on treatment for an infection or have already finished a course of antibiotics”.
To help minimise the risk of catching Strep A, Nevinson recommended teaching children “good hygiene measures”.
Nevinson explained what is involved in practising good hygiene measures, such as teaching children to “wash their hands properly with soap for 20 seconds”.
Another tip is to teach children to use “a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes and keeping away from others when they are unwell”.
By implementing such measures, children will have a reduced risk of picking up or spreading infections.
Nevison said: “Good hygiene measures are really important for reducing the spread of any bacteria and viruses.”
Boots’ Superintendent Pharmacist Claire Nevinson is the expert on Strep A infections.
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