Parents in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire should remain vigilant to the signs and symptoms of strep A and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) but should not be overly worried by the risk it can pose to very young children, local medics have said.
Cases of the bacterial infection have been rising up and down the country, with local clinicians also seeing an increase in the number of parents bringing their little ones to hospital and GP practices.
However, despite a small number of extreme cases, medics across the region are reminding parents that while strep A and RSV can be unpleasant, most cases rarely become serious, and that the infection can be treated with the help of antibiotics.
RSV symptoms include sore throat, temperature and muscle aches.
Strep A symptoms include temperature, red tongue, swollen glands and a rash that might look like sandpaper.
Dr Amanda Webb, Chief Medical Officer, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, said: “As a clinician and a parent, I know that it is always concerning when a little one falls ill, regardless of how severe their symptoms may be.
“During the winter months, it is not uncommon for strep A to circulate throughout nurseries and pre-schools, and while we are seeing more poorly children this year than we would normally, parents should be reassured that only a small number of
cases become very serious.
“A course of antibiotics, along with plenty of rest and fluid intake, will help most children to feel better in just a few days.
“Good hand hygiene, as well as using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and staying away from other children with possible strep A symptoms can help out little ones to stay fit and well throughout the winter months.”
Parents of children who are feeling poorly should monitor their symptoms closely, and seek help if they notice their son or daughter’s condition getting worse, or if their eating and toilet patterns are significantly different to normal.
Mums and dads should make use NHS 111, which can provide quick medical advice over the phone or online, with parents of children under five years of age being urged to always use the telephone service first.
NHS 111 can also signpost parents to other in-person NHS services, if it is felt their child requires further care and treatment.
Children who develop severe breathing difficulties, become floppy or have a blue tongue or lips should be taken immediately to the nearest hospital emergency department.
Getting children vaccinated against flu can also help to keep little ones on top of other potentially nasty respiratory conditions this winter, with all children eligible for a free nasal spray vaccine from most GP practices and community pharmacies.
More information on the help available to local people this winter can be found online