Parents should watch out for 'pain in one part of body', grandmother of Strep A ... trends now
Pain in one part of the body might be a sign of Strep A in children, according to the grandmother of a sick girl whose fight against the illness sweeping Britain tugged at the country's heartstrings.
Camila Rose Burns, from Bolton, was admitted to hospital nearly a fortnight ago and was left fighting for her life after developing an exceptionally rare complication to the usually-harmless bug.
The four-year-old's grandmother, Dawn, has now told how Camilla — who is still in intensive care — had developed a pain near her shoulder before becoming seriously ill.
Fifteen children have now died from Strep A in Britain this winter. Health chiefs say the toll, although low, is unusually high for this time of year.
Camila Rose Burns (pictured), from Bolton in Greater Manchester, was admitted to hospital 11 days ago and doctors confirmed she was had the usually-mild bacterial infection
Her grandmother, Dawn, has warned before receiving her Strep A diagnosis, Camilla (pictured) — who is still in intensive care — had developed a pain in her shoulder
What is Strep A?
Group A Streptococcus (Group A Strep or Strep A) bacteria can cause many different infections.
The bacteria are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, and some people have no symptoms.
Infections caused by Strep A range from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases.
They include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause an illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.
What is invasive Group A Streptococcal disease?
Invasive Group A Strep disease is sometimes a life-threatening infection in which the bacteria have invaded parts of the body, such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs.
Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.
Necrotising fasciitis is also known as the 'flesh-eating disease' and can occur if a wound gets infected.
Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is a rapidly progressing infection causing low blood pressure/shock and damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver and lungs.
This type of toxic shock has a high death rate.
Camilla, who is no longer hooked up to a ventilator, had been well and dancing with her friend on Friday November 25 but started to feel 'a little under the weather' the next day.
Her father Dean Burns, 44, and his wife Kaye, 39, took their daughter into hospital that day when she started complaining about her chest hurting.
A sickness bug had been going around her school, but Camila was sent home from the hospital as her condition did not appear serious.
But when Mr and Mrs Burns checked on their daughter at 3am on Monday morning, they found her lying in black vomit and rushed her straight into Alder Hey Children's Hospital.
Her grandmother told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning: 'Camilla was complaining of having pain in her chest, in the top left-hand corner, quite near to her shoulder.
'Pointed that out to the doctor, and the doctor said she has "more than likely" pulled a muscle being sick and coughing.
'And I think that's what parents need to look out for — a persistent pain in one part of the body.
'Because you've been told by someone who you trust that it's a pulled muscle and to give her Calpol, you just trust that that's the right thing.'
NHS guidance states that Strep A infections can cause 'severe muscle aches'.
But flu-like symptoms, including a fever and sore throat, are the top two listed symptoms.
And guidance from the UK Health Security Agency advises parents to contact NHS 111 or their GP if their child seems 'seriously unwell' and is getting worse, is eating less than usual, is showing signs of dehydration and is very tired or irritable.
Parents should call 999 or go to A&E if their child is struggling to breathe, their tongue or lips are blue or they are struggling to stay awake, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Ms Burns explained that when her son checked on Camilla in the night he had found her 'awake, just staring into space' and thought that she could see animals in her room.
Camilla had expelled black vomit and it was 'very clear that she was very, very unwell', she said.
The four-year-old was admitted to intensive care.
Her Strep A infection had turned into sepsis — when the immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage the body's organs and tissues. It is a known complication of invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS), the life-threatening but rare illness than can occur with Strep A.
A consultant said she was 'probably the illest child in the UK and as close to death as you could be without actually dying' [sic], according to her grandmother.
Ms Burns said she was given 'tons of support', including medication, a ventilator and dialysis but has since 'slowly but surely managed to pull it around', Ms Burns said.
Her father Dean Burns (pictured), 44, and his wife Kaye, 39, took their daughter into hospital last week when she started complaining about her chest hurting
Her father, Dean Burns, said her condition rapidly deteriorated last weekend, from feeling 'a little under the weather' on Saturday, worse still on Sunday and requiring hospital by Monday
Pictured: Camila Burns
She was taken off a ventilator yesterday but her parents say she is still in intensive care and 'extremely poorly'.
Camilla's father had previously urged parents of children to 'go to hospital right away' if they show any symptoms of the infection.
Strep A bacteria can cause a myriad of infections, including impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
Symptoms can include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.
Scarlet fever cases tend to develop a red sandpaper-like rash on the chest and stomach, which spreads to other parts of the body. Patients usually also have flushed red cheeks and a bright red tongue.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria can cause iGAS.
Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of this invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.
Fifteen children across the UK have died from complications caused by the Strep A infection since September. This is more than expected, health chiefs have said.
Victims include Stella-Lilly McCorkindale, a five-year-old girl from Northern Ireland, Hannah Roap, a 'bubbly' seven-year-old from Wales, and Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, a four-year-old boy from Buckinghamshire.
Almost 170 children have been hit by iGAS already this season, health chiefs confirmed yesterday.
Strep A outbreaks tend start to gather speed in the New Year, before peaking in the spring. But cases have taken off earlier than usual this year.