Experts are demanding that Britain hand out Covid-style lateral flow home tests for Streptococcus A also known as Strep A, to relieve the pressure on GPs and A&E deptartments.
Online supplies have sold out in light of the current outbreak.
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Fifteen children have reportedly already died due to a rare complication of the usually-mild bacterial infection. Health chiefs say the rising toll is higher than expected for this time of year.
This is also the time of year that school children have been given their annual flu vaccination.
Children are given the live attenuated influenza vaccine [LAIV] via a nasal spray.
Worthy of note, it has been found that live attenuated influenza vaccine enhances the colonization of Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus in mice.
The Mail Online reports: The surge in cases and resulting fears has left the NHS in ‘meltdown’, with parents of sick children swamping GP practices, A&E units and 111 call centres.
Dr Nicole Robb, an infectious disease expert at Oxford University, told MailOnline that lateral flow tests should be rolled out to detect the infection earlier, reduce the risk of severe illness and ease NHS pressures.
Dr Robb, also co-founder of health-tech firm Pictura Bio, said community testing, at home and in pharmacies, would take the ‘strain off GPs and hospitals’ and let people ‘rapidly test if they suspect Strep A’.
She said: ‘If your child has sore throat it’s likely to just be a mild infection — but in a very small number of cases it might be more serious.’
A simple saliva or nasal swab could confirm a Strep A infection ‘before waiting for it to progress’ or rule out the bug, easing parent worries.
Rapid and reliable testing could also see those with confirmed Strep A — or other winter bugs — stay at home and reduce transmission due to earlier detection, Dr Robb said.
‘It would also mean that less antibiotics are handed out ‘just in case’, and we keep them for illnesses that really require them, cutting antibiotic resistance,’ she said.
Dr Robb claimed such lateral flows are already being trialled in some hospitals but it ‘needs to be accelerated’.