Strep A is a common type of bacteria which can live on the body without causing any symptoms of illness. It can also cause many common infections including tonsilitis, impetigo and scarlet fever.
Common symptoms of a Strep A infection include:
- flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, swollen glands or an aching body
- sore throat (strep throat or tonsillitis)
- a rash that feels rough, like sandpaper (scarlet fever)
- scabs and sores (impetigo)
- pain and swelling (cellulitis)
- severe muscle aches
- nausea and vomiting
Most strep A infections are mild and can be easily treated with antibiotics. If you think your child may have a strep A infection, seek advice from your GP or call 111.
If you or your child has a strep A infection, you should stay away from nursery, school or work for 24 hours after you start taking antibiotics. This will help stop the infection spreading to other people.
Very rarely, strep A bacteria can cause more serious infections. This is called invasive group A strep (iGAS).
What to do if your child is unwell
It can be difficult to tell when a child is seriously ill, but the main thing is to trust your instincts. You know better than anyone else what your child is usually like, so you'll know when something is seriously wrong.
Contact NHS 111 or your GP if:
- your child is getting worse
- your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
- your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
- your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39C or higher
- your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
- your child is very tired or irritable
Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
- there are pauses when your child breathes
- your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
- your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake
Stop the spread
Strep A infections can easily be spread to other people through coughs, sneezes or touching infected skin. To reduce the chance of catching or spreading an infection encourage your children:
- wash your hands often with soap and water
- cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze
- bin used tissues as quickly as possible
This will help reduce the risk of picking up or spreading infections.
Further information on Strep A is available from Strep A - NHS