At least 19 children have died from Strep A as the number of Scarlet Fever cases rise to three times more than the usual level but how are they connected? 

A senior health official has said that the UK has reported more than 7500 cases of Scarlet Fever.

Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), added that the majority of affected children have only had a mild illness of Strep A.

The chief medical adviser explained on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that an “open mind” is being kept as to why there is a spike in infections.

Speaking on the BBC radio programme, she said: “The latest with scarlet fever and Strep A infections are that we’ve seen about just over 7,500 notifications of scarlet fever, and that’s probably an underestimate.

“We have a lot of reports coming in in the last few days so we expect it to be even higher.

“That’s about three times higher than the same time in a normal season. The last bad season we had in 2017 and 18.

“And in invasive Group A Strep cases, we are more than halfway through what we’d normally see in an average season.

“We’ve seen 111 cases in children aged one to four and 74 cases in children aged five to nine.”

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What is Strep A?

Group A Streptococcus (Group A Strep or Strep A) bacteria can cause many different infections.

The bacteria are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, and some people have no symptoms.

Infections caused by Strep A range from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

READ MORE: Signs and symptoms of Strep A and Scarlet Fever amid multiple child deaths this week

READ MORE: What to do if you think your child has Strep A infection and when to see a doctor 

What is Scarlet Fever?

Scarlet Fever is a contagious infection which mostly affects young children.

The bacteria Group A Streptococcus causes Scarlet Fever and can also lead to Strep throat and the skin infection impetigo.

Strep A can make a toxin which can lead to a rash that we recognise as the "scarlet" of Scarlet Fever.

Signs and symptoms of Scarlet Fever in a child

Symptoms include a sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel.

Scarlet fever lasts for around 1 week.

You can spread scarlet fever to other people up to 6 days before you get symptoms until 24 hours after you take your 1st dose of antibiotics.

If you do not take antibiotics, you can spread the infection for 2 to 3 weeks after your symptoms start, according to the NHS.

The symptoms are the same for children and adults, although it less common in adults.

For more information, guidance and support, visit the NHS website.