Following the death of a 9 year old from streptococcus A, the Greek National Public Health Organization cautions parents to be alert for the following symptoms in children and, if they appear, be sure to get children examine by their pediatricians.

Group A strep (GAS) is a bacterial infection that is considered highly contagious, and is primarily spread through droplets when someone cough or sneezes or through shared food or drinks. There are over 120 strains of bacteria that cause GAS infections and most of us have the bacteria on our skin and our throat without actually experiencing any problems.

Serious infections associated with GAS are caused by group A invasive streptococci (iGAS). These infections are caused when bacteria are carried to parts of the body where they are not normally detected, such as the lungs or elsewhere through the bloodstream.

Although iGAS infections are still uncommon, recent weeks in the UK have seen an increase in cases beyond the levels expected, based on records from before the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase mainly concerns children under the age of 10 and unfortunately, have been linked to a small number of deaths.

Its key symptoms are sore throat, pain swallowing, swollen tonsils, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, rash, red spots on the back of the roof of the mouth, nausea or vomiting and body aches. Sufferers will experience a general feeling of malaise (feeling unwell).

It is easily treated with antibiotics but if left unattended can lead to kidney inflammation of rheumatic fever, which causes painful joint inflammation, a rash and even heart valve damage.

Parents should contact their child’s pediatrician if an ill child: loses their appetite, appears dehydrated, symptoms don’t improve, is a baby under 3 months of age and has a fever over 38 degrees Celsius, is over 3 months of age and has a fever of 39 degrees Celsius or above, the child appears lethargic.