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The public got used to washing hands thoroughly during of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they will have to practice safe hygiene again as cases of potentially-fatal Strep A soar across the UK. 

Although Strep A infections are typically mild, an invasive form of the bacteria, iGAS, has been affecting young children, with several having died over the last few weeks. 

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), there were 851 cases of Group A strep in week 46, which is significantly more than previous years’ weekly average of 186. 

Dr Colin Brown, deputy director of UKHSA, told the public that Group A infections, such as strep throat and scarlet fever, can usually be treated with antibiotics.

However, there have been a rising number of cases of the bacteria getting into the bloodstream and causing iGAS.

Although this is still rare, “it is important that parents are on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor as quickly as possible so that their child can be treated, and we can stop the infection becoming serious.”

The UKHSA advised parents to seek medical assistance if their child is deteriorating, feeding or eating much less than normal, showing signs of dehydration, has a high temperature or feels hotter than usual, has difficulty breathing, is floppy and not staying awake or waking up, or has blue skin, tongue or lips. 

Streptococcal bacteria are contagious, so it is important to always maintain good hygiene to avoid contracting the illness. The bacteria can be spread through droplets, shared food or drinks, and from surfaces. 

To protect yourself and your children, use silicone finger protectors.