A PRIMARY school has confirmed three cases of scarlet fever - which is linked to Strep A – the infection behind nine child deaths nationally.

Head of school at Martley Primary School, Lucy Cox, said the cases among pupils were all confirmed last week.

Mrs Cox said the children's parents had all spotted the signs and reported it immediately to their GP.

The school said it has contacted all parents to let them know and has followed all health and safety guidelines.

Scarlet fever is “usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious”, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

In very rare cases it can cause the invasive form of Strep A.

At least nine children across the UK are believed to have died from an invasive form of Strep A bacteria.

Mrs Cox said: "I can confirm we had three cases of scarlet fever last week. In each case, parents identified the symptoms and contacted their GP.

"The school has followed all health and safety guidance; parents have been kept fully informed and asked to be extremely vigilant. 

"Information has been sent out advising parents of the symptoms and have recommended that any concerns are reported immediately to their GP.

"The safety of our children, staff and families is of paramount importance to us and we have a full range of measures in place to minimise the risk of further cases.

"We will continue to ensure parents are informed. "

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Scarlet fever is caused by the bacteria group A streptococci, and in very rare occasions, this bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause invasive Group A Strep.

Occurring most often in the winter and spring, symptoms include a rash, a sore throat, flushed cheeks and swollen tongue.

The bacteria is spread by contact with an infected person or contact with infected skin lesions.

Anybody can catch scarlet fever although it is more common in children than adults, with the infection most common in children aged five to 15 years old.

UKHSA officials have suggested that a lack of mixing due to the Covid pandemic plus susceptibility in children are probably “bringing forward the normal scarlet fever season” from spring to this side of Christmas.

Downing Street urged parents to be on the “lookout” for symptoms earlier this week after a rise in infections caused by the Strep A bacteria.

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Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others. 

If signs of scarlet fever are suspected, it is important to contact your local GP or NHS 111.

Early treatment of scarlet fever with antibiotics is important as it helps reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and the spread of the infection to others.