TWO Scottish children under 10 have died from Strep A as the total number of fatalities hits 26.
It brings the total number of people who have died in Scotland since October to seven.
Both children were confirmed to be under 10-years-old, and passed away between October and December of this year.
Several children have died as a result of the bacteria in other parts of the UK, but this is the first time deaths have been reported in Scotland.
Illnesses caused by the Group A strep bacteria include skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
The death toll in the UK for children is now 26 since the season started mid September.
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One known victim, little Hanna Roap, died within 24-hours of falling ill with invasive Strep A.
The seven-year-old's condition had started with a mild cough.
Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, four, from High Wycombe, Bucks, also died from the illness.
Jax Albert Jefferys’, who attended Morelands Primary School in Waterlooville, also died from the condition.
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Stella-Lily McCorkindale fell severely ill at the end of November and and was treated in hospital before she tragically passed away from Strep A.
In the 2017 to 2018 season, there were 355 deaths in children, including 27 in children under the age of 18.
The surge in cases is putting a huge strain on NHS 111 and pharmacists, with shortages of penicillin and other antibiotics reported across the UK.
Last week, pharmacists in England were given new powers to prescribe an alternative to penicillin in order to treat Strep A as supplies of the drug dwindle.
Cases of the deadly bug are also circulating in high numbers in other European countries, including France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, according to the WHO.
The updated figures from Scotland today come as a new jab for the illness could be on the horizon.
What are the symptoms of invasive group A Strep and scarlet fever you need to know
There are four key signs of Group Strep A to watch out for, according to the NHS. These are:
- A fever (meaning a high temperature above 38°C)
- Severe muscle aches
- Localised muscle tenderness
- Redness at the site of a wound
The invasive version of the disease happens when the bacteria break through the body's immune defences.
This can happen if you're already feeling unwell or have an immune system that’s weakened.
The NHS says that when it comes to scarlet fever, your child will most likely start off with cold-like symptoms.
The signs will include:
- high temperature
- sore throat
- swollen neck glands
- rash 12-48 hours after initial symptoms. This usually starts on the tummy and then spreads
- white coating on the tongue
- red cheeks
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