Six-year-old dies after Strep A bacteria outbreak at Surrey primary school

25 November 2022, 09:49 | Updated: 25 November 2022, 10:33

A six-year-old pupil has died and another is in hospital after an outbreak of invasive bacteria at a primary school in Surrey.

The year 1 Ashford Church of England School pupil caught the invasive Group A streptococcal (iGAS) infection, it was said in an email to parents.

UK Health Security Agency South East's (UKHSA) health protection consultant Dr Claire Winslade confirmed the death.

"We are extremely saddened to hear about the death of a pupil at Ashford Church of England School, and our thoughts are with their family, friends and the school community," she said.

"As a precautionary measure, we have recommended antibiotics to pupils and staff in the same year groups as the individuals affected.

"We have provided advice to the school to help prevent further cases and will continue to monitor the situation."

An email sent by the school to parents, obtained by the PA news agency, said: "It is with the deepest regret and sadness that I have to inform you that a child in year 1 has sadly died after developing invasive Group A streptococcal (IGAS).

"We are also aware that a child in a year 2 class has developed the same illness but is showing positive signs of recovery."

Surrey County Council director of public health Ruth Hutchinson was quoted as saying: "We are deeply saddened by the death of a pupil at Ashford Church of England School and we offer our sincere condolences to their family, friends and the whole school community, who are in our thoughts."

How dangerous is Strep A?

Group A streptococcus (or Strep A) can cause scarlet fever, throat infections and, in very rare cases, invasive disease.

It can happen when bacteria get into parts of the body where bacteria are not usually found, such as the blood, muscle or the lungs.

This occurs if the bacteria get past a person's defences, such as through an open wound or when a person's immune system is depleted.

Most people who come into contact with the bacteria remain well and symptom-free.