‘There’s no drugs:’ The struggle for penicillin stocks as sickness levels rise in North West England | UK News
Children with colds, flu and Strep A are not uncommon at this time of year, but rising levels of illness are cause for concern.
Especially in the North West of England. The region now has the highest rates of Scarlet Fever in the country, the disease caused by the same bacteria that lead to invasive Group A Strep.
And the number of children with Streptococcus A at hospitals this year is unusually high.
A five-year-old girl becomes the ninth person to die Recently, after being infected with Strep A.
At Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, the emergency department was packed with people.
The advertised wait time was five and a half hours, but a nurse told me it was much longer than that.
In fact, the Emergency Department’s chief advisor, Dr Bimal Mehta, said they were the busiest of the past two days. He told Sky News the increase in Strep A cases is a cause for concern.
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“We have seen the busiest days of the past few days here. During the winter we have seen more patients with Strep A and Scarlet Fever than in previous years.
“We’re just seeing more of this virus circulating in the population, especially in the younger age group, than normal. And because we’re seeing more of this virus. , we’ll see a lot more towards the end of a severe pandemic. disease.”
Doctors and scientists already know so much about Strep A, many like Dr Mehta are warning the majority of cases will result in a mild cold and antibiotics will help clear up the infection. .
But after a suggestion from the government that penicillin could be introduced into classes with reported outbreaks – pharmacists were confused.
Strep A: Find out how many severe infections and scarlet fever are in your area
Not enough stock for prescription
In Manchester, pharmaceutical director Zeshan Rehmani is urgently sourcing antibiotics for his “relevant parents”.
He says he’s running out and it’s unclear when he’ll get more.
“There is no medicine. Today, we cannot have any penicillin in stock.
“So when we hear stories about the possibility of giving children antibiotics in schools, it just shows how the health department has lost touch with the pharmacies on the ground.”
He added: “Pharmacists across the country are thinking that we don’t have enough penicillin to get prescriptions, let alone distribute to schools.”
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But it is the classroom that is the front line of the Strep A infection.
That’s where children catch the virus and in some cases become very ill.
At a primary school in Cheshire, attendance was the lowest for the whole year.
Principal at Leighton Academy, Samantha Thompson, tells us that about 40 children have recovered with symptoms of Scarlet Fever or Strep A – her parents are worried.
She said: “Since the October half-term, we’ve seen all sorts of illnesses, especially the symptoms of Strep A, and that’s been a big concern for us.
“Children’s health and safety is paramount, so we really have to make sure we’re looking for early signs and symptoms and reporting them to parents – but ultimately that has a huge impact on the education of children.”
The school has received updated guidance from the UK Health Security Agency, but Ms Thompson has taken precautions by re-imposed sanitizing and cleaning extra classrooms to kill virus.
For almost three years, COVID-19 dominated our lives, and it’s often easy to forget about other infectious diseases that are still causing problems.
In the Northwest, it is clear that scarlet fever and Strep A are common, and although scientists have reassured them that most cases remain mild, many parents are still increasingly concerned.