The UK government has advised parents to be on the lookout for signs of Strep A infections in their children. The warning comes after a primary school student became the eighth child to die of the infection within weeks.

The child attended Morelands Primary School in Waterlooville, Hampshire, and was diagnosed with group A streptococcal infection (iGAS), according to a report in The Guardian.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) last week issued a rare alert over the rise in Strep A cases. It said that the group A streptococcal infection and scarlet fever season started earlier than usual.

The prime minister's official spokesperson, in a statement released on Monday, asked parents to stay cautious.

"We are seeing a higher number of cases of group A strep this year, compared to usual. The bacteria, we know, causes a mild infection which is easily treated with antibiotics and, in rare circumstances, it can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness," said the spokesperson.

"It is still uncommon but it's important parents are on the lookout for symptoms. But the NHS is well prepared to deal with situations like this, working with the UK Health Security Agency," they added.

A strep, or streptococcal infection is caused by the streptococcus group of bacteria, according to the NHS website.

Under this umbrella term, there are three different types of strep bacteria, which cause infections of varying degrees of severity. These are Group A, Group B, and Groups C and G.

Group A strep generally affects the throat, skin, anus, and genital area, causing conditions including ear infections, impetigo, and tonsillitis. Group B is present in the gut and genital tract and is therefore most often seen in babies after birth.

According to WebMD, Group C and G strep targets the throat, skin, and bones and can cause toxic shock and heart inflammation.

If caught quickly, a strep infection can be treated with antibiotics. However, depending on the condition, it can be fatal. Anyone can be affected, from babies to the elderly. However, those with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable.

Strep A
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